How Identity is Powering Your Everyday Life—Behind the Scenes

How Identity is Powering Your Everyday Life—Behind the Scenes

Type in your username and password. Seems simple enough. But what if I told you, you’re possibly spending 9 hours per year just typing in usernames and passwords?

In the US, the average email is associated with 130 accounts. If you’re logging into just 3 of those accounts each day, you’re spending about 9 hours every year just logging in to different accounts (assuming an average login time of 30 seconds). 

When we talk about identity and access management, most people might immediately think of a company securing and managing their employee identities and profiles. However, our online (and offline) identity is all around us, and it powers so much of our everyday life: who we interact with, and how we interact with them. 

And, just like in real life, we need to identify ourselves, prove we are who we say we are in controlled spaces, and access the right resources as we navigate through our online digital experiences

Identity works overtime so you can relax at home

Generations ago, relaxing at home after a long day was pretty straightforward. You really did unplug from the day by kicking off your shoes, perhaps finding a new recipe in your printed cookbook, then turning on the nightly news. 

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for us today, we have many more options for relaxing after a long day. And it may surprise you to know that identity plays a role in some of the ways you “unplug” at home. 

Examples? There’s nothing better than a good meal after a long day. And, as any decent home cook would, you subscribe to the New York Times Cooking newsletter. There’s no time to waste, so you pick up your phone, find the NYT Cooking app and gain quick access through their social login authentication. Dinner is decided. 

After dinner, it’s time to binge an old favorite, The Office. You notice it’s been removed from Netflix, and a little research reveals that it's now on Peacock. To your joy and surprise, you learn that your existing cable subscription includes Peacock! And since the platform has enabled third-party login, there’s no need for you to create a whole new account; you simply input your usual cable provider credentials, and you’re on your way. After all, identity theft is not a joke, Jim. 

In both of these examples, you enjoyed a frictionless experience because these media providers bet on building integrations that worked for you. Although enabled by technical platforms, you were not experiencing a tech-heavy process. You cooked a delicious meal and watched your favorite show—without being forced to remember a password, create a new account, or fill out a registration form. 

Keeping up with friends and family (and the Kardashians), made easier with identity

Americans, in general, are consuming a lot of social media, averaging 2 hours and 24 minutes a day. If you’re going to log that much time catching up with friends, family, and celebrities, you don’t want to waste that time with usernames and passwords. For this reason, the dominance of social media has changed the way we think about identity and the way it functions. 

If you had to login to Instagram every time you opened the app, you wouldn’t use the app as much, and this is where identity comes in. When you download and login to an app from your phone, it becomes a device that the app recognizes and trusts—it doesn’t require you to prove who you are every single time you use it. 

But what about a new phone or from your laptop? As we’ve all experienced, the app will prompt you to enter your username or password, making sure that you are who you say, and, since it doesn’t recognize the device, that you have the right to access that account. 

Think of it like a ticket to an amusement park. Once you buy a ticket at the front gate, you don’t need to show it every time you get on a rollercoaster. The ride operator assumes you’ve been “vetted” ahead of time, at the front gate, so you’ve earned your access to the ride. 

Identity can be fun too

As consumers, we’ve come to expect a tailored experience. When we’re shopping online, we expect the retailer to recommend the best products based on our shopping history and tastes. When we buy tickets to a baseball game, we expect that we’ll get a reminder about the game, along with information about how to enter the ballpark and what kind of refreshments will be available. And when we go to a restaurant with online ordering, we’d love for a recommendation on what wine we should try next or a nudge to order dessert towards the end of our meal. 

In order for brands to provide these relevant and timely recommendations, companies and organizations need to collect data and user preferences from us. However, they also must keep this data secure so that our email, password, or wine preferences don’t end up in a data breach. 

Again, this is where identity comes in, behind the scenes. A good customer identity and access management (CIAM) solution allows companies to collect the right data about their customers to provide a personalized and enjoyable experience. It also allows them to securely store that data in one centralized location so that your data isn’t scattered in various silos with different security measures, making it more vulnerable to hackers. 

So, the next time you’re online shopping and take them up on that suggested offer in your cart? You can know that their identity solution is also working, behind the scenes, to keep you safe. 

Staying healthy with identity

A lot of things have changed in our world during the pandemic. Many of those changes involve the way we interact with our healthcare providers and monitor our own health. 

Telehealth adoption is booming, and more and more customers are looking to mobile apps and online platforms to view their health records. In fact, McKinsey found that consumer adoption of telehealth to replace cancelled healthcare visits has increased from 11 percent in 2019 to 46 percent in 2020. 

And if you’ve read this far, you probably know what’s coming next: identity powers many of these experiences. Think about a typical doctor's visit, step by step. You

  • schedule your appointment online
  • input all the information your doctor might need ahead of time, also online
  • update your insurance information for processing
  • look online to find the closest pharmacy, from which to quickly pick up any prescriptions 
  • expect to access your lab results 24 hours after the appointment

And, unless an office visit is required, you need a way to pay your co-pay from home.

Typically, many of these activities are occurring in vastly different systems and even across different companies (e.g.,your doctors office, your insurance agency, the lab processing your lab results, and your pharmacy). 

Providers who have a robust customer identity and access management solution can allow you to register for a single account and control many parts of this process from a single application, account, and website. This allows you to get the care that you need, when you need it, where you need it, and with a more frictionless experience. 

Besides, who wants to deal with lost passwords and creating accounts when they’re feeling sick?

So, there you have it. Even when you don’t realize it, identity is working behind the scenes to make sure you can access the resources you need, whenever and wherever you need them. A good identity solution also has your back, working hard behind the scenes to keep all of your data secure. 

If you’re wondering how Okta helps companies and organizations enable these experiences, check out a few of our customer journeys like MLB or Dignity Health.