Accenture Tech Vision 2023 – Digital Identity Foundational Trend

This year’s Tech Vision “When Atoms meet Bits” paints a future that fuses the physical and digital, moving away from isolated digital experiences to realize a digital society that seamlessly converges the physical lives we’ve been leading with the digital ones we’ve been rapidly expanding. It shares a vision of integrated and personalized experiences that will change how we manage our health, do our shopping, take part in the workplace, optimize our utilities, socialize with our friends, and many other aspects of our lives. However, we are faced with a challenge in that the web was never built with an identity layer, yet access management is predicated on strong identity, so as companies have increasingly relied on digital technology to run their businesses, the challenges resulting from that gap have continued to grow, effecting business resilience, security, privacy, consent, and trust.

Tech Vision places digital identity as the first of the four foundational trends driving this new reality, very succinctly calling out the need for innovators to design digital identity for the future and not solve for the past. We need to prepare for a world where data sharing and ownership will be dramatically different than the web login world of today, a world where we will interact with multiple digital touchpoints as we move around our world, living our best lives.

It also calls on enterprise leaders to grasp the full scale and speed at which identity is changing our digital and physical landscapes, where what we are seeing is nothing short of digital transformation at a societal level. It is also careful to lay down a shared understanding of digital identity as being more than simple authentication and access management, comprising of core/foundational identity and functional identity. Foundational identity is typically provisioned by a governmental institution conveying some legal rights and responsibilities and establishes uniqueness within the target population, such as a passport. Functional identity attaches other attributes to the core identity, such as a driver’s license conveying someone is legally allowed to drive.

Tech Vision shared welcome news about digital identity adoption.

  • United Nations called for legal digital identity and birth registration of all people by 2030 as part of its Sustainable Development Goals, with governments around the world starting to develop digital identity systems, with associated legislation.
  • Microsoft launched Microsoft Entra Verified ID, a new verifiable identity and credentialing service based on decentralized identity standards.
  • JPMorgan’s Onyx can credential people across the metaverse, Web3, and decentralized finance, allowing people to bind digital assets to a decentralized ID and then choose which data they want to share to access services, such as opting to use one’s credit score to leverage a “buy now, pay later” option. While Onyx is still in development, the underlying takeaway is that one of the largest investment banks in the world is envisioning a world where customers have agency over their own data and decide what to share with whom, when, and for what purpose.
  • Apple has expanded its Wallet app, to let users store and share government-issued IDs.
  • Wien Energie, an Austrian energy provider, tokenized one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar plants in the country, creating digital IDs for each PV module, which were then sold to customers who were paid for the energy produced.
  • Early Warning Services and seven banks including Capital One, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America launched Authentify, an identity verification product that lets users log into their online banks from participating websites and apps, streamlining the process for sharing sensitive banking data.
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $200m to public infrastructure projects, including digital ID.
  • The market for digital identity is expected to swell from $27.9 billion in 2022 to $70.7 billion by 2027.

However, not all is smelling of roses and Tech Vision did share some unwelcome news with us, where 79% of executives report their organizations’ preferred strategy leans toward centralized solutions. This is where we must do a better job to highlight the strengths of a decentralized approach and demonstrate how it can coexist with centralized systems, giving the best of both worlds.

In a world that is more digital, more intelligent, more interconnected, and consumes more data, we need to ensure that the digital identity foundation ecosystem is trusted, safe, secure, globally scalable, and jurisdictionally compliant. Those in the self-sovereign identity community have spent nearly a decade preparing for this moment; doing the heavy lifting – designing the architectures, specifying the standards, building the communities, writing the code, driving the adoption, and writing the legislation – to be ready to deliver on the promise of a new digital world that puts the person at the center and empowers citizens to be active participants in their digital future.

In my next blog post I will share more specifics about what we’ve been doing, and why we believe that the time for self-sovereign identity is now!

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