Digital transformation is changing everything in the business world, from the way we communicate, to the way our factories operate, to how we define what and where the workplace is. It’s even making us reevaluate the ways in which we interact with our customers.

Many organizations are also rethinking customer interaction due to the growing list of data privacy laws. How customers are identified and how their data is stored has to be considered in new ways. These issues are just a few of the reasons why more companies are turning to cloud identity.

What Is Cloud Identity?

Cloud identity allows organizations to better manage their customers and users. It’s identity service and identity and access management (IAM) in a cloud computing environment. With digital transformation and many identity assets moving to the cloud, it’s necessary to not only protect the consumer, but also the business. With cloud identity, organizations can ensure that customer transactions are secure and not damaging to business operations.

Furthermore, in an environment where it is becoming harder to tell a real person from a bot, organizations need a way to discern legitimate transactions from spam, malware or trolls. In the digital business world, it is necessary to establish who is on the other end of these connections.

“If you are building a digital business, you have to establish a digital relationship,” explained John Summers, vice president at Akamai Technologies, during a conversation at the Edge World conference. “That’s where identity comes in.”

Not Everyone Needs to Know Your Name

You likely do business digitally with your customers, and that business may be conducted across different websites, different login options, or even with different departments or entities within the same company. In the past, the problem has been that customers aren’t recognized as the same person across the entire business.

Plus, some sites don’t need to know the customer’s identity at all — in fact, the less a company knows about you, the better — but they still make customers sign in and create new authentication data. That’s an inconvenience to both the customer and the enterprise.

Through cloud identity, however, organizations can pick up identifiers that make it easier to recognize unique digital individuals. In terms of customer service offerings, businesses can reach out with specific, targeted marketing campaigns so the customer isn’t bombarded with irrelevant information.

It also gives users the opportunity to have more control over their information, according to Rick Troiani, director of I.S. architecture and integration with Sanofi, a multinational pharmaceutical business that has added cloud identity. As an enterprise headquartered in France, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance made it necessary to prioritize customer data control. With cloud identity, the customer is able to tell the organization what they want to do — and what they don’t want to do — with their personal data.

Customer Data All Over the Place

Thanks to digital transformation in the enterprise, consumer data is scattered everywhere and anywhere, especially if customers interact with multiple websites and departments. The GDPR has been a logistical headache in this respect, because customers are increasingly asking companies to delete their data.

Once they make that request, Troiani said, someone in the company has to go look for that data. “It’s a manual process that can take weeks to do,” he added.

Under some privacy laws, it isn’t just telling consumers where their data is, but how the company is using it, and that’s even more difficult to determine. But with cloud identity, all that information is in a central location. When a customer asks to be forgotten, the company can not only find the identity and locate everywhere the data might reside, but they can also relay how that information has been used.

This is especially useful for organizations that are involved in a lot of mergers and acquisitions. While the enterprise may have an excellent security and privacy system, you don’t always know how the newly acquired company handles its stored data. Cloud identity gives companies a chance to protect sensitive information as the enterprise pulls it all together in a more secure manner.

Identity management in the cloud goes beyond privacy; it assists with overall security as well by helping security teams recognize fake information. Cloud identity can improve a company’s stature on verifying credentials and ensure that stored identities match newly inputted authentication data.

As more business applications move to the cloud and more businesses undergo digital transformation, organizations need to improve the way they track data from consumers. Cloud identity lets businesses consolidate that information in a system that treats every customer as a truly unique individual.

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