How digital identity orchestration is powering innovation

12 April 2023 5 min. read
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Innovation is recognised by most organisations as a way to introduce new features and functions that engage customers, making them happier and improving loyalty. While organisations understand the power of innovation, in practice they may lack the security mechanisms to partake, writes Ashley Diffey, Head of APAC and Japan at Ping Identity.

The pace of digital acceleration initiatives today means that organisations are required to innovate faster. The point is to get innovative features out quickly, because existing customers and the broader market are demanding a cadence of new features.

But innovating at pace may be at odds with internal risk appetites and thresholds. Especially in highly regulated industries, such as financial services, the overarching priorities for operational teams is to maintain a high level of uptime and availability of a customer-facing transactional service.

How digital identity orchestration is powering innovation

While opportunities may exist to tweak the service by adding new technology-based features or functions, this needs to be weighed carefully against the risk of unintended breakage and downtime. Teams may take the position that if the service isn’t broken, there’s no burning need to try and ‘fix’ it.

That being said, customers today have certain expectations about what it means to be able to transact digitally. At some point, those expectations need to be met.

Ideally, what needs to happen is for this internal bottleneck to innovation to be resolved. The way to do that is by having frameworks and systems that instil confidence that innovation can be pursued and introduced to an existing process or workflow safely and securely, with minimal to no disruption to the production instance.

One way this can be approached is by putting identity at the centre of innovation efforts. This establishes a granular view of how individual users, or cohorts of users such as those in specific geographies or IP address ranges, experience the innovation. It will quickly be apparent if the innovation is adding value or constraining the user experience.

In addition, a low-code/no-code orchestration platform can be a useful way to seed innovation to subsets of users. Through these platforms, teams map their existing workflows and then create an augmented version that they can live-test on a small subset of users.

This setup allows experimentation to progress while providing teams with the assurance that they do not have to implement innovative technology in a ‘big bang’ way. Meaning, a situation that could backfire if the technology breaks the workflow or isn’t accepted by users, necessitating a rollback.

Here, if the innovation fails or creates a sub-optimal experience, the cohort of users acting as testers can simply be moved back to the original workflow to complete their transaction. That creates a safe space to innovate that teams ultimately want.

De-risking innovation to achieve positive outcomes

Identity has evolved considerably over time. Whereas it was once just an account and password, it is now a common frame of reference used by many parts of an organisation, from security and risk management to customer acquisition and marketing.

Identity is now the ‘single view of the customer’. It is relied on to show how customers interact with digital properties. People in the organisation use identity to understand where a customer went, for how long they stayed, and what they did and didn’t like about their experience.

Identity is at the core of every part of the customer journey. What’s important from a user perspective is that identity gives them the exceptional digital experiences they want, with the least amount of friction possible – a quick multi-factor authentication prompt, for example – to keep them and the organisation secure.

When innovation is introduced to a journey, the key question is: did the users that were served the innovation-enhanced experience benefit from it? Did it impact users in a good or bad way? An identity hub can be a great source of real-time data on how a new innovative feature or function impacted individual customer behaviour. This is crucial if follow-up actions are to be data-driven; that is, informed by the actual user experience, instead of by internal fears of what could go wrong.

The introduction of innovation to an existing customer journey or transactional process can be further de-risked through the use of A-B testing. An orchestration platform can be used to introduce innovative features on a limited basis and perform what-if testing to learn whether or not the innovation results in a noticeable performance or customer experience improvement.

A good orchestration solution is vendor-neutral, meaning it can work with any technology, anywhere, and at any time. That makes a broad range of innovation experiments possible.

It should also provide additional telemetry data very quickly: for example, if part of a transaction is taking forever to complete, immediate questions can be answered about the root cause: whether the bottleneck is a firewall appliance, a network link, or a slow server, orchestration solutions can be used to visualise the end-to-end transaction or customer flow, and quickly identify any parts with less than optimal performance.

The outcome of identity orchestration is a newfound ability to innovate repeatedly and reliably, to accelerate new digital initiatives that are not only secure but achieve higher customer satisfaction by being able to offer new and enhanced experiences.