Editorial

Could a mix of diversity and design thinking solve our ID dilemmas?

That’s at least one takeaway from many of the speeches at last Thursday’s well-attended ‘Think Digital Identity For Government 2020’

Posted 19 February 2020 by Gary Flood


“Our teams should be as diverse as the problems we are trying to solve.”

Is there a clue in this quote from a senior stakeholder at Airbus quoted on stage at last Thursday’s Think Digital Identity For Government 2020 in Westminster for a possible way forward in terms of creating a truly sustainable and popular UK ID ecosystem?

L-r: GlobalData’s David Bicknell and Accenture’s Christine Leong debate ID futures at last week’s ‘Think Digital Identity For Government 2020’

It was certainly a key message from the Digital Identity expert who put the quote up on screen – Women in Identity‘s Colette D’Alessandro, who also called for more diverse inputs into system design.

And the optimism side? That was a theme kicked off by Accenture’s Global Lead for Decentralised Identity & Biometrics, Christine Leong.

In her morning dialogue with the conference MC, GlobalData’s David Bicknell, Leong was consistent in her insistence that old, perhaps more rigid, ways of thinking around ID need to change – and that a wider mix of perspectives would be the best way to do this:

“You are not the [ID] user. I am not the user. Everyone has diverse requirements, and to match them you need as diverse a team to get there as you can.”

At the same time, no central vision for ID doesn’t help either. “If I can’t use my MasterCard everywhere I want, what use is it to me? It’s the same thing for ID… you don’t want it to work cross-border, but also across different functional sectors, both domestically and internationally. The more ‘identities’ you end up with, the less they will be trusted.”

The best contribution for government here, she believes, is act less as a controller but as a broker, supporting ID: “The role of government here has to be to foster partnerships and get people together to collaborate.”

Leong’s pragmatic message and urge for less ID ‘groupthink’ was echoed by many other speakers over the course of the day, but perhaps this strand in the conference was best summed up by Hippo Digital’s Adam Lewis‘s afternoon speech on how ID services can thrive if driven by good design, not a wish to just use the latest tech draped in buzzwords:

“Don’t start with technology; nobody cares about your use of PKI or your Trust Framework or that it uses Blockchain!

“Historically, we’ve been a vendor-led industry and there are a lot of claims out there as a result, but it’s so much better to start with good service design thinking instead.

“On one side, there are always people, and on the other something valuable.

“Identity happens [here] in the middle… so don’t let it get in the way!”

Accenture was lead sponsor for the conference, and we interviewed Christine in advance of her session last week here.