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The digital user drives the Internet: Implications for IoT

Gemini WaghmareIssue:North America I 2016
Article no.:12
Topic:The digital user drives the Internet: Implications for IoT
Author:Gemini Waghmare
Title:CEO & Founder
Organisation:UXP Systems
PDF size:196KB

About author

Gemini Waghmare, CEO & Founder of UXP Systems.

As the CEO and founder of UXP Systems, Gemini Waghmare has rapidly become a leading voice in the communications industry, frequently guiding operators on digital transformation and the power of the digital user lifecycle.

Previously, Gemini Waghmare held senior positions at: Amdocs, TELUS, Digital Equipment Corporation, and various startups along the way. Gemini provides the strategic direction for UXP Systems and is responsible for the realization of the company's goal of empowering the digital users that drive the internet. His deep knowledge of service provider infrastructure and entrepreneurial vision give UXP Systems the foundation to succeed in the dynamic telecom and cable landscape.

Gemini Waghmare holds a degree in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business,
Western University.

Article abstract

The explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT), in North America and around the globe, and more and more people adopting IoT technology as part of their daily lives, they have mixed feelings about their new digital life experience. They are excited about the remarkable things they are now able to do with these devices and services to enhance their lives both at home and while they are away from home.  

Full Article

Have we stopped to think about challenges that may arise as more and more technology infiltrates the way we live every day – encompassing everything from how we wake up in the morning, turn on the lights, manage the room temperature, brush our teeth, get our breakfast ready, do our morning exercises to navigating our way to school and work, tracking the many things we do and the many things we need to do? It seems that almost everything we do these days is related to a device or a digital service. What will be the implications be for us as users and for the service providers who enable these services for us?

With the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT), in North America and around the globe, and more and more people adopting IoT technology as part of their daily lives, they have mixed feelings about their new digital life experience. They are excited about the remarkable things they are now able to do with these devices and services to enhance their lives both at home and while they are away from home.

But as they acquire these new devices and services, they face the challenge of managing multiple applications, understanding multiple user interfaces, navigating compatibility and control of the devices and services. As users accumulate more of these services as a part of their digital lives – everything from smart watches and fitness products to home automation and security – they find that every device or service has its own user on-boarding process, its own set of user credentials, and its own method of access.

The emergence of digital identities
Just like the way the internet profoundly and permanently changed the way people interact with products and services from travel to television, music to messaging, shopping to socializing, the IoT is changing the way digital users interact and their expectations for the digital user experience. They want to use mobile apps and portals to access what they want, where they want, when they want.

With adoption of these digital services, people have also become accustomed to experiences where the friction of human intervention is gone. They no longer have to (nor do they want to) walk into banks, line up in queues, or tolerate call centre agents to carry on with their day to day lives. Instead, they can and want to use digital identities as their passport to online services and storefronts that are both frictionless and offer boundless choices.

Direct debit and credit were huge advancements over the manual transfer of cheques and cash, just as the cellular phone was an advance over the need to use a fixed and shared telephone line. Now, digital identity enables an on-demand, personalized world of communications, entertainment, commerce and lifestyle services that users can access on any screen. Our digital identities and the services that they unlock will eventually enable the replacement of most every manual product and service interaction in our day to day lives.

Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are leading the way in paving a road that uses digital identity as a means of navigation. Using digital identities, they enable a broad range of services, from content to merchandise, communications to entertainment. They collectively manage an aggregate of over 2.5 billion digital identities to pursue their various business models, from e-commerce to electronic devices to advertising. Regardless of the difference in their businesses, one thing is common – the unequivocal need to have a digital identity as the basis of a user’s relationship with these Internet Innovators.

The technology and evolution of creating, managing and using our digital identities is still an evolving space, as we continue to expect more and more flexibility in what we can do in a digital world, and as Internet Innovators seek to play a role in that lifestyle. The landscape for digital identity today is characterized by:

• Rapid Innovation: Digital identity is undergoing a rapid evolution to accommodate the way in which we want to interact with our services. In the last 18 months, Apple and Amazon have introduced the ability to delegate access to services from one digital identity to another. This means we can now share access to services without sharing usernames and passwords. The concept of managing individual identities within the notion of a group has emerged. Fingerprints and mobile devices are becoming aliases as new ways to identity oneself; and the technique of identity federation, where one login can be used to access a separate third party service has become popular.

• Fragmentation and re-consolidation: As more and more companies “go digital”, they need to create a digital relationship with their users. For example, as television programmers like HBO, Netflix and Showtime offer direct to consumer digital apps, each will require a digital identity. This fragmentation will create a disjointed, multi-identity experience for an end user and will likely lead to a re-consolidation around a single digital identity. Even in a single company, like Comcast or Apple, end-users may be represented by multiple siloed identities. As this leads to more frustration and confusion, a rationalization towards a single digital identity must occur.

• Generational Shifts: Baby boomers do less online than Gen-Xers. Millennials, on the other hand, live their entire lives online. As Millennials become older and Gen-Xers become more digitally dependent, we will come to expect more and more functionality in our digital experiences. For example, users will use their digital identities to set alarms, open doors and check electronic health records. They will also want to easily govern the granting of access to each of these things, and monitor who and how they are used.

• The Delicate Balance between User Data and User Privacy: As the use of digital identities to access content and services increases, so too does the ability for software platforms to collect data concerning users’ services, preferences and interactions. This data has been used by companies, namely Google, to drive billion-dollar advertising businesses that deliver highly targeted and relevant ads to digital users. User Managed Access - which aims to ensure that users are as digitally empowered to govern access to their data as companies are to collect it - is a business imperative in the industry today.

Eventually, digital experiences will permeate across every personal, household and business interaction in which we engage. In order to enable that, a very comprehensive system that can manage the lifecycle of every user; and the intricacies of how that user interacts with digital services, devices and features, and the many other digital users around them will be needed.

Evolving digital user journeys to mirror everyday life
Any process of engaging with a company and their products or services in a 100% digital manner is called a Digital Journey.

Digital Journeys lay out how one might use their mobile tablet or web browser to sign up for online television. They also detail the digital activities one would undertake to set up an online music service, create a preferred playlist, and then access it from the dashboard of their connected car.

Because these digital journeys are meant to be frictionless, with no manual interaction, they are powered by software alone. The software platforms that support digital journeys must be smart and flexible enough to handle many use cases in a manner that optimizes the user’s digital journey while accommodating every possible user scenario.

Surprisingly, the financial services industry has shown tremendous innovation in this regard. We can deposit and transfer money, pay bills, view statements and buy stocks all through digital apps and portals. The Internet of Things phenomenon, which proposes the interconnection of everything via the internet, proposes the need for similar digital journeys in Health & Wellness, Home Automation, Transportation, Education, Communications and Entertainment.

The few companies who can act as intermediaries and provide frictionless digital user journeys across these many services will own profitable user relationships. They will become distributors of digital goods and services and capture broad and valuable data about what users are consuming and doing in their digital lives.

Identity driven services
The challenge today is that many companies involved in the provision of communications services that enable the IoT still maintain infrastructure anchored in a non-digital world. The key is to embrace the concept and importance of a digital identity strategy for everyone who consumes their services at the first step. From there, they can implement digital journeys to provide the kind of digital user experience their users are demanding, and in the process play a strategic role in the center of their user’s service experiences – across multiple services, multiple devices, and importantly, multiple commercial transactions.

Nothing is going to stop the digital evolving around the growing IoT. The question is what companies are going to make the kind of strategic moves necessary today that will place them in the center of these service experiences, brokering their user’s digital identities and providing the kind of user lifecycle experience that will differentiate their services above those of their competition?

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