04 Nov 2021

5 key insights from digital leaders on the adoption of digital identity

Sopra Steria discuss the results from 100 technology decision makers survey to understand the importance of digital identity, as well as the challenges that leaders face as part of techUK's Digital Identity Week. #digitalidweek

A digital identity, held and managed by citizens, has the potential to enable trust to be built and value to be added for both consumers and organisations. It would allow individuals to prove their identity in multiple contexts, seamlessly and efficiently.

In our latest research, we surveyed 100 technology decision makers to understand the importance of digital identity, as well as the challenges that leaders face.

Let’s take a look at what they told us, and explore how organisations can overcome those challenges to achieve successful digital identity adoption:

  1. Integration of digital identity into legacy systems

Legacy systems are seen as the biggest blocker to the adoption of digital identity. Nearly half of respondents (49%) to our survey included Legacy Systems as one of their top three blockers to developing digital identity services.

To overcome the challenges that legacy systems can bring, it’s important to take a step-by-step approach to digital identity adoption. As with any digital transformation, breaking down the adoption process into modules which take into account legacy systems, will allow for agile testing in a series of proofs of concept. An incremental approach will help mitigate risk (perceived and otherwise) and prove value before wide-scale investment.

  1. Achieving true user centricity

Our survey showed that only 8% of organisations are providing a seamless customer onboarding service, yet customer experience was selected as one of the top three benefits of digital identity. There is a real need to address this, by reducing friction in the onboarding and verification process, and reducing the amount of manual processing involved.

Enabling the reuse of digital identity during onboarding and verification processes helps to improve user experience by reducing the need for duplicate effort by the user. They won’t need to double key their details, their identity will be more accurate, and the whole process will be quicker and smoother.

  1. Including digital identity in business strategy

Identity is a key enabler for all organisation services. It supports business change and enables digital transformation. However, according to our survey, only 43% of organisations include digital identity in their digital/IT strategy, while 14% of organisations make no mention of digital identity in any strategy. The only way to ensure a truly joined up approach to digital identity is to weave it through all departments and functions, giving it the space it deserves within the overall business strategy.

For a long-term strategic and sustainable approach, digital identity needs to be adopted across the organisation to fully enable the digitalisation of services. That way, the relevant blockers can be identified and overcome, and the full range of benefits can be exploited. With widespread adoption, the organisation can enjoy the economies of scale from digital identity services, generating a faster return on investment.

  1. Incorporating internal and external use cases

Our research showed that organisations are focusing more on external use cases for digital identity than on internal cases. While 29% of organisations in the survey included only external use cases, slightly fewer (26%) included only internal use cases. 42% of respondents included both internal and external use cases for digital identity.

For a truly holistic approach, organisations should be looking at how digital identity could enable user-centric service journeys for all use cases, both for employees and customers/citizens. A digital identity strategy encompassing both internal and external use cases will support the digitalisation of government and private sector organisations for all types of user. Such a holistic approach, where internal and external user journeys are optimised and supported by digital identity, may well deliver more attractive returns. Lessons learned from implementing digital identity for one use case, can then readily be used to review and refine other cases, to reap the benefits of scale.

  1. Developing digital identity as part of an ecosystem

An incredible 85% of the respondents to our survey agreed or strongly agreed that a set of user centric ecosystems that enable a user to create, manage and share their own identity, is the future of digital services.

While it seems clear that the future should include user-centric ecosystems of digital identity, a staggering 19% of respondents in our survey have no plans at all to allow identity credentials to be managed by the user so that they can be securely shared. 53% are investigating this option, but only 10% of respondents are actively allowing self-management of identity credentials.

The development of a true identity ecosystem is central to the building of both trust and value.

  • In the short-term we will see digital identity enabling onboarding and verification across a single service
  • In the medium-term, we expect to see digital identities enabling onboarding and verification through a specific use case or problem statement, facilitated by a standardised and regulated scheme
  • In the longer term those regulated schemes will join up to create an ecosystem containing several industries at once

In Summary

Organisations are on a journey with digital identity. They’re clearly starting to see the benefits it can bring to their organisation and its users. There are of course some challenges and education required to achieve good levels of adoption. However, once we recognise widespread adoption, there’s the promise of widespread benefits – for both organisations, and their users.


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Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden

Head of Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID, techUK

Katherine joined techUK in May 2018 and currently leads the Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID programme. 

Prior to techUK, Katherine worked as a Policy Advisor at the Government Digital Service (GDS) supporting the digital transformation of UK Government.

Whilst working at the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) Katherine led AMRC’s policy work on patient data, consent and opt-out.    

Katherine has a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Nottingham.

[email protected]
020 7331 2019

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Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

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