In this blog, Rens van Dongen, Security Officer at iWelcome, shares his thoughts on modern consumers’ needs for trust and ethics in society and business.
‘The Times They Are a-Changin'. Over half a century has passed since Bob Dylan made his statement about society. Indeed, in all regards, the fifty years before him had drastically transformed: women’s voting rights, skyscrapers, television. Since the ’60s however, apart from everyone’s faces having gotten stuck to digital screens, most of society looks roughly the same. But in the information age, appearances are deceptive. After having been given political stability, economic freedom, and technological opportunities, people don’t tend to lean back. No, their expectations develop in ever more profound ways. Companies need to anticipate and manage customer identities respectfully, in order to survive and fight another day.
The demands of today’s ‘citizen of the world’ are hard to keep up with. Consumers have never before been this demanding. No wonder, as they have been given a truly world-wide marketplace called the internet. We want choice, we want low cost, and we want it fast. Competition only accelerates. If we snooze, we lose.
Consider the evolving norms that settle in our collective consciousness, guiding us as modern-day commandments for where we shall buy or quit. After Al Gore climbed the world stage and preached his Inconvenient Truth in 2006, it took us some years, BP’s oil spill and a Nobel Prize to consider the implications of sustainability - and how to play our responsible role in capitalist society. Now fast-forward to today. We don’t bat an eye after seeing the third Tesla in a row, reusable water bottles have conquered our backpacks and organic food is the new normal. These are business opportunities and – at the same time – business killers. Unilever gets this, Volkswagen learned it the hard way.
Customer trust is hard won, easily lost
What will come next? What will businesses need to adapt to, as not to be silently surpassed by electrified competition with a better sense for millennials’ practical wants and ethical needs? That’s the million dollar question. What we do know, is that an AI revolution is on the brink of dominating our daily lives and that our social networks harvest more about us than we are willing to accept. Data is the new gold and we are stuck with Mark Zuck as an unelected emperor of 2.2B souls - coincidentally equal to the amount of Christians across the globe. People are starting to realise there is a dark side to their willingness to blindly trust organisations. And only organisations that get this message will have a fighting chance.
While testifying before the US Congress, Zuckerberg uttered the words “It was my fault, and I’m sorry”. Weeks later, his PR disaster continued at the EU Parliament in Brussels. Perhaps, he unwillingly ushered in a new societal change, just like Gore did before him. Politicians, the media, and people across the world clearly took notice.
How to manage identities in the age of privacy
Dating back to Dylan’s time, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights listed “The Right to Privacy” as number 12 out of 30, just before “The Freedom of Movement”. But we first needed to wake up in a world pouring over with our own data, to really appreciate this. Only after the Snowden Files appeared, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, and the GDPR landed, it seems there’s no turning back on privacy and data protection. The genie is out of the bottle, and he wants to exercise his data subject rights!
With today’s complexity in a clutter of digital information systems, that puts organisations in a tough spot. How ought all this personal data to be properly secured against theft, misuse, and loss? Where does it live, anyway? And how can we make sure we remain trustworthy to our customers, given the massive outcry one misstep in information security will invoke? Every enterprise is dealing with this. And it seems bizarre that every enterprise is supposed to solve the same puzzle on their own, and do it right the first time, or else…
Sharing this burden needs to be part of the solution. As customers need to authenticate their identities and be given authorisation in countless systems associated with the many organisations they’re engaging with, there is a way to streamline this process. Identity & Access Management (IAM) solutions emerged first in the workforce, enabling enterprises to manage both the database of employees’ identities and their access privileges. Today, Consumer IAM is here to provide customers with the same benefits, and it lives in the cloud as IDaaS. By focusing expertise and innovation in one place, Consumer IAM technology promises to relieve organisations from these complex challenges so that compliance, resilience, and privacy by design are guaranteed. One less thing to worry about. Until, of course, Gore and Zuck are joined by the next prophet of change.
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Rens van Dongen
Security Officer at iWelcome
With a deep passion for SaaS technology and information security, Rens brings to the table vast experience and deep knowledge in these fields. Within iWelcome, Rens is responsible for maturing and monitoring the strategic riskmanagement program to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information in our platform and organisation.