In a series of interviews held at Ubisecure’s head offices, Simon Wood takes a few minutes to talk about the trends he’s seeing in the Identity Management industry, his vision and key initiatives for Ubisecure’s growth. This is the first of three Q&As.
You joined in January 2017, tell us a little bit about what you were doing before and why you joined Ubisecure?
Sure, prior to Ubisecure I was CTO at GMO GlobalSign. Despite the technical complexity of the PKI world in which GlobalSign lives, my role was probably best described as strategic advisory with a heavy technical bias. Prior to GlobalSign, I was a partner at a boutique Investment Bank, with a focus on client strategy and value growth.
Why did I join Ubisecure? Throughout recent times there have been continual technology shifts, some small, some large, that have shaped our lives. These shifts or pivot points have resulted from new discoveries, new applications, or changed combinations of existing technology. Identity & Access Management (IAM) is going through that right now and organisations are now looking for business value, and that value is emerging within the transition from internal to external IAM (also known as Customer IAM), refining the customer experience, empowering the end user, and reducing ongoing delivery costs. Ubisecure has 10 years proven history in this field, and I’m really excited about the part I can play in that.
Is Customer Identity & Access Management (CIAM) a new technology?
CIAM is certainly not new for Ubisecure, it’s been core to our Identity Platform for a decade. At one level CIAM is simply a different view of an existing Identity & Access Management technology, however that massively downplays the underlying complexity of the full breadth required from a CIAM platform. Systems and data models that excelled in internal IT federation scenarios are wholly inadequate for CIAM, so yes, a different technology is required. We have to appreciate that customers are way less forgiving users than employees when it comes to clunky IT services, so using CIAM instead of traditional internal IAM helps companies focus on improving customer experience.
Then there’s the issue of scale – an enterprise may have a few thousand employees, but it will likely have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of customers either in b2b or b2c relationships. Both the technology and business workflows need to be able to support users at scale, which is what effective CIAM solutions should be able to do.
There’s a lot happening in the identity management space, why do you think it’s so active now?
When you think about it, we have so many identities that exist out there – social, banking, mobile, Government… Even so, people have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of individually separate accounts for every site they interact with. All these accounts contain sensitive personal data and are usually created for a single purpose only, such as buying something, subscribing to something, paying a specific bill etc. I think we’ve reached a point where people are becoming more adverse to filling out yet another form and sharing yet more sensitive personal data. This change in user behaviour, converged with the fact that so many identities already exist, has resulted in an opportunity for companies like Ubisecure to help organizations federate the identities they manage, and help service providers support which identities they should accept. It’s a win for everyone involved.
That’s an interesting tipping point for understanding the value of CIAM, can you tell us more about why this is a ‘win’ for Service Providers?
I think we are seeing the interplay of four discrete areas – security, efficiency, experience, regulation.
In terms of security (and its cousin, privacy) we see weekly reports of data leakage or account compromise. If you don’t manage the accounts you have no accounts to leak. Outsourcing your identity needs becomes an off-the-shelf proposition with the right CIAM platform. No Service Provider wants the brand impact of exposing private data.
An example for efficiency; Service Providers want to cut down on workflows owned by helpdesks and likewise customers don’t want to wait in support queues. CIAM can make self-management of identity related functions much more scalable.
In terms of customer experience, both organizations and customers want the simplest, smoothest customer journey they can have. Customers are becoming more sophisticated every day and are demanding frictionless experiences from the systems and services they use. CIAM delivers on all these areas.
Finally in terms of regulation, privacy has become a hot topic for all stakeholders handling personal data, including consumers. GDPR alone requires much tighter controls around data sharing and data consent, but without using modern identity management solutions that support consent management, I feel that many organizations will quickly fall foul of these new regulations.
We want to have another focused session with you on your vision for Ubisecure, but until then can you tell briefly about your key initiatives to grow the company?
My vision for Ubisecure is to become acknowledged as the European CIAM provider enabling our customers to unlock the true potential of digital business. To achieve this we have several core initiatives being launched right now.
Ubisecure is rightly proud of its Finnish heritage, but now we are in the process of expanding beyond the Nordics into Northern and Western Europe. You’ll see some exciting announcements on that over the coming months.
To deliver to that scale we need partners, and today, we have great and growing relationships with a number of system integrators but we need to provide richer support to them so they are empowered more, and again, you can expect to hear some great news regarding that too. At this month’s Partner Summit, we’ll be rolling out our enhanced Partner Program and showing Partners what they can expect from Ubisecure in coming months.
In the next Q&A, I’ll be talking about the product side of our business – our innovations under way and competitive advantage especially in the mobile space. I look forward to sharing more!