In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Marketers looking to harness the Internet of Things (IoT) require a new approach to viewing and implementing processing, analytics, storage, and communications. Certainly, identifying “who’s who, what’s what, and who gets access to what” is one aspect. But how this is processed, managed, protected, stored, and communicated is a whole new kettle of fish for businesses.
Identity management is not just about securing IoT devices; it must rationally secure and make sense of the entire environment, from customers to partners, websites to webpages, to mobile devices, apps, and the cloud. This is by no means a comprehensive list – just one that will hopefully give you an idea of the number of links in the chain.
Back in an age where companies only connected computers to other trusted computers, life was far simpler. Legacy systems were created to maximise internal security, keeping threats well outside. Security was perimeter-based. Firewalls protected organisations. Identity was about internal stakeholders, creating identities for employees to access the right information and services securely. Businesses used to have to cope with, on average, 20-40,000 identities.
However, the dawning of the IoT has turned this on its head. Marketing organisations everywhere need systems that provide secure access externally, to customers, partners, and other important stakeholders. This means systems have to cope with millions of identities, and most of them outside of the firewall. Static and portable devices need to talk to each other, and then there’s Human-to-Machine and Machine-to-Machine identification and interaction on top of that.
Customers need to access company systems via multiple devices or objects and expect a bespoke user experience based on how, when, and where they access services. This requires a single, secure identity platform to unify the entire company ecosystem and enable a straightforward, repeatable way of securing an increasing number of devices. Building a platform that supports and unifies the entire ecosystem is challenging enough, but organisations also need to be able to support new services, new devices, and new infrastructure on the back end.
So how do businesses protect data they can’t see as it’s communicated between machines and other parts of the ecosystem?
Contextual Knowledge is Power
Contextual intelligence and awareness can add significant value to digital services. For instance, a connected car can remember the personal preferences of every driver, or the Sony Smart B Trainer can offer personalisation to support the user’s individual fitness goals. The new data propagated by such devices enables companies to better understand their customers, as well as protect them. Devices come to know what to expect from you as a typical user—and notice abnormal behaviour that triggers enhanced security measures. This kind of contextual intelligence also opens up revenue opportunities for cross-selling, upselling, and delivering personalised services.
Encrypting and authenticating this data is essential; however, it is also imperative to understand who accesses data and how, as well as where and when they access it. Knowing this information will help authenticate the user and confirm that their behaviour is in-line with past behaviour. It is important to note that as these kinds of IoT devices continue to come online, organizations need to be sensitive to the highly personal nature of the data that can be collected. Obtaining the consent of the user to act on this data is critical.
Real-time contextual clues, in addition to credentials, provide organisations with the tools needed to decide whether to grant access, and how much access to allow. For instance, if a system detects a login attempt with correct credentials, but from an unrecognised IP address or at an uncharacteristic time of day, it can activate additional security measures such as requesting personal security questions or sending verification codes to a user’s mobile phone.
The speed at which marketing organisations get to reap the rewards of IoT lies firmly in their hands. The Internet of Things requires oganisations to understand and manage an external-facing identity management platform effectively. Unless organisations can link objects, devices, and new mobile and social apps to a single security platform, they won’t be able to truly harness the enormous growth potential offered by IoT.