The value of our digital identity

Dit rapport gaat over het concept van de digitale identiteit: de som van alle beschikbare digitale informatie over een individu. Het rapport kwantificeert de huidige en potentiële economische waarde van de digitale identiteit; zowel de economische waarde als de waarde die consumenten aan hun data toeschrijven.

De belangrijkste bevindingen uit het rapport op een rijtje:

  • In an increasingly digital society, personal data has become a new form of currency. The biggest challenge for political and business leaders is to establish the trust that enables that currency to keep flowing.
  • “Digital identity“ is the sum of all digitally available information about an individual. It is becoming increasingly complete and traceable, driven by the exponential growth of available data and the big data capabilities to process it.
  • How digital identity develops is an importantconcern for consumers and companies alike. Individuals are worried about losing both their privacy and control over their personal data. Companies, on the other hand, fear that missteps – be it through their own, or third-party applications – could compromise their position as trusted provider.
  • Global trends including the social media boom (a quarter of the world‘s population will be members of online social networks by 2015) and the burgeoning “Internet of things“ (some 75 million machine-to-machine connections will be added in Europe by 2015) result not only in increased information volume, but also completely new types of data.
  • From a macroeconomic perspective, it becomes clear that digital data is already a growth driver in an otherwise flagging economy. While traditional industries shrank by up to 3.6% from 2008 through 2011 in Europe, data-intensive sectors – where the use of digital identity is a key component of business – thrived with annual growth rates between 15% (e-commerce) and up to 100% (Web 2.0 communities).
  • All told, the value created through digital identity can be massive – at a 22% annual growth rate, applying personal data can deliver a €330 billion annual economic benefit for organisations in Europe by 2020.
  • Individuals will benefit to an even greater degree, as the consumer value will be more than twice as large: €670 billion by 2020. The combined total digital identity value could amount to roughly 8% of the EU-27 GDP.
  • However, two-thirds of potential value generation – €440 billion in 2020 – is at risk if stakeholders fail to establish a trusted flow of data.
  • Digital identity is relevant not just to Web 2.0 companies, but to the economy as a whole. The public sector and health care industry stand to profit most from personal data applications and are expected to realise 40% of the total organisational benefit.
  • While the retail and Internet sectors already extensively use personal data, other sectors like traditional production and the aforementioned public services are in the infancy of digital identity value generation.
  • Consumer concern has grown along with the increased use of personal data. 88% of people who are online consider at least one industry a threat to their privacy. Yet consumer research conducted for this study shows that stated concerns by individuals do not necessarily result in behavioural change.
  • Most consumers have little idea what happens to their data. Only 30% have a relatively comprehensive understanding of which sectors are collecting and using their information. Individuals with higher-than-average awareness of data uses require 26% more benefit in return for sharing their data.
  • Few individuals are in control of their digital identity. Just 10% of respondents had ever done six or more out of eight common privacy-protecting activities (e.g., private browsing, disabling cookies, opt-in/out). However, consumers who are able to manage and protect their privacy are up to 52% more willing to share information than those who aren‘t – presumably because they can adapt their data sharing to their individual preferences.
  • Trust differs per sector: Consumers are on average 30% more willing to share data with e-commerce companies, cable operators and automobile manufacturers than with Web 2.0 communities.
  • The “right to be forgotten“ has a small but consistently positive impact on the willingness to share, increasing it by 10% to 18%.
  • The preferred form of consent strongly depends on the type of data: Opt-out is considered adequate for less sensitive data by 69% of respondents, while opt-in is required for highly sensitive data by more than 80%. The issue of consent highlights a key dilemma: Control is important to consumers (82%), but so is convenience (63%).
  • Overall, given proper privacy controls and sufficient benefits, most consumers are willing to share their personal data with public- and private-sector organisations. They want to spend their new currency on deals that they like.
  • To unlock value, organisations need to make the benefits of digital identity applications very clear to consumers. Further, they need to embrace the new digital identity paradigm of responsibility, transparency and user control.
  • Privacy is increasingly becoming an area of competition for organisations, which can differentiate themselves by providing the right privacy controls and privacy-by-default product design. Indeed, such a scenario may well play out in the desktop and mobile Web browsing market.
  • Policy makers and regulators need to ensure adequate privacy safeguards and maintain a flexible approach that will encourage new applications and allow consumers to make their own informed choices on the extent to which they wish to generate value from their digital identity.
  • Political intervention must account for shifting levels of acceptance regarding digital identity applications and the developments in the global marketplace. Failure to do so may hamper innovation as well as the competitiveness of domestic industries. Finding the right balance can spur local investment in digital identity applications and also attract industries to European markets that provide a safe haven for personal data.

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