Decentralisation and the Future of Identity

21 May 2024

In the second episode of Verify This, Product Marketing Lead Lucie MacNeill interviewed Chief Product Officer, Alasdair Murray.

With 20 years of experience in the industry, Alasdair has worked with organisations to deliver software solutions that tackle digital identity and securityalasdair-podcast-preview challenges in government, health, education, and private enterprises. Currently, Alasdair is building products that help organisations disrupt the centralised identity paradigm and is on a mission to move data control into the individuals’ hands through decentralised, verifiable credentials.

Alasdair’s experience made him the perfect guest speaker for the episode’s topic, the future of digital identity. Having covered strides made across the identity and access management field to date with Gillian Jones in our first episode, Lucie was keen to unpack how organisations might address the challenges faced with current standards and what the new era of digital identity looks like.


Outcome-driven metrics

The conversation kicks off by exploring how senior leaders have typically underestimated the business value that Identity and Access Management (IAM) delivers. Many senior leaders struggle to determine the benefits inherent in IAM that go far beyond access.

Alasdair calls out the growing realisation that identity encompasses more than just security and risk management. The new shift in understanding enables businesses to redirect their focus towards enhancing user experiences and reducing costs, particularly through implementations such as self-service automation, as noted by Gillian Jones in episode one. This emphasises a broader trend that is applicable across various industries.

A trend gaining traction is aligning core company benefits with identity infrastructure, as organisations increasingly appreciate that IAM discussions involve IT specialists, HR, and the wider organisation. This awakening to the potential benefits of identity in daily operations shows a significant momentum shift within digital identity.

Common challenges across identity

Noting a hospitality-specific focus in episode one, Lucie was keen to understand the common themes regarding business challenges Alasdair sees across all associated industries. Four stood out.

  1. Efficiency and security with Joiners, Movers, and Leavers (JMLs)
    Organisations have been struggling with the efficiency and security of staff movement into, within, or out of the business. A seamless JML process is crucial to enabling smooth integration into systems, facilitating access monitoring, and ensuring access control is revoked when employees leave the organisation.
  2. Complex and evolving technology landscapes
    The combination of diverse systems and specialised software is forming complex and vulnerable landscapes, expanding the attack surface businesses face. These new landscapes also make enhancing security and maintaining specialist systems difficult.
  3. Trust and the movement of data
    As digital data grows, effectively transferring this data across organisational boundaries can become difficult and unreliable, resulting in poor user experiences and verification issues.
  4. User control and transparency for end customers
    There is growing interest in understanding how various parties share and process data. Organisations are trying to find IAM solutions to achieve greater transparency and data privacy.


The new era of digital identity

In Alasdair’s view, the standout technology is decentralisation, a concept Condatis has been actively engaged with for over half of its ten years in the identity industry.

Decentralisation presents an appealing solution to the common identity challenges called out by facilitating improved data transfer between organisations, simplifying complex IT infrastructures, and enhancing transparency.

In a centralised digital landscape where vast databases store information about individuals, decentralisation flips the paradigm, empowering individuals to control their data securely. This approach mitigates the risks associated with centralised databases, which are becoming prime targets for cyberattacks and enables the person to become the network, sharing their information only as needed.

Advocating evolution rather than revolution, Alasdair underscores the importance of integrating emerging technologies with existing systems. He emphasises the role of decentralisation as a unifying force within diverse ecosystems, addressing common challenges while preserving established infrastructure.

Despite the promise of emerging technologies, Alasdair acknowledges the uncertainty surrounding their trajectory and specification, which fosters apprehension among stakeholders. Coupled with the expanding array of options from AI to biometrics, this uncertainty poses usability and skillset challenges for organisations, a phenomenon Alasdair refers to as the “expanding edge” based on client feedback. He observes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, necessitating a strategic approach to integrating various software and technologies to address complex problems effectively.

However, the potential benefits of this integration are substantial, in support of the right identity specialists to facilitate seamless adoption and maximise the advantages offered by cutting-edge technologies available in the market.

Alasdair concludes by sharing his excitement about the future of digital identity, emphasising the realisation that establishing a robust digital identity framework goes beyond just access management.

He highlights the potential of digital identity in shaping both physical and digital experiences, enabling personalised interactions that can make life easier and change how individuals interact with the digital and physical world.  “It’s an exciting journey to be part of” he says.

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | YouTube |

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