Key Issues Plaguing Digital Identity Services


Sachin Mahajan, (TELUS & MobileLive)

The Internet without high assurance identity services is akin to a house without plumbing and electrical wiring. As we collectively start launching services (Mobile Connect, Identity Verification & others) the hope is we build a strong foundation to allow Digital Banking, IoT and other services to unleash their true potential with a friction-less user experience.

From my perspective here are the top 3 issues with Identity today:

Issue #1: None of the existing products largely address the markets needs

In February of this year, I went to Barcelona to attend MWC, where over 150,000 telecom professionals from around the world congregated. It was the perfect place to discuss the latest developments and trends in Digital Identity & IoT.  I had one evening free to myself, so I decided to walk around the city. Given Barcelona’s reputation, right before I left my hotel room I took all my important identity documents i.e. passport, credit card, driving license and locked them up in my room’s locker….and dually walked out with my prepaid euro chip and pin card. So the point being the things that were important to me were locked up in my room- safe and secure, as they should be but I had no access to them….which is the exact issue or problem with the digital world.

Issue #2: There is an immediate need for a High Assurance or Trustworthy Digital Identity solution

Often done to death, but worth a quick mention is the fact that the terms “digital world” vs “real world” are becoming so intertwined that soon we will be unable to distinguish between them. Terms such as “Away from Keyboard” (AFK) might become more prevalent. Given that I sleep with my cell phone 3 feet away from myself…AFK never really happens, until and unless my device runs out of battery these days.

Issues #3:  We want everyone else to provide their police clearance certificates to prove their identity in the online world but do not want to do the same at their end.

An interesting episode from my life a few months back, highlights the most important issue I believe plagues our digital world. I have a 10 year old niece, and she and I discuss all things important. She along with her friends were setting up a musical concert in the neighborhood and wanted to promote it online. In a bid to engage more people she was contemplating discussing it on 2-3 chat groups, which she thought were relevant. The moment I found out, I told her she had to keep 2 things in mind:

  1. Not to trust people in chat rooms. They could very well be perverts, criminals, frauds, cheaters or who knows what
  2. Giving out real name and contact information was an absolute No No

Here in lies the paradox…we want others to provide all their identity related information, but do not find the web safe enough to share our own….. this is a log jam!

PS: The intent of writing this quick piece is to engage my stakeholders, so please comment and help me better understand your needs.

Connected healthcare and the art of the possible…

Sachin Mahajan, MobileLive & ex-TELUS

In the near future, it wouldn’t be unfathomable to find a paramedic at your doorstep with a fibrillator and preventive medication in anticipation of your heart-attack in 30 mins. With the proliferation of fitness and wellness devices your wearable wristband not only has the capability to track your daily physical activity (footsteps, calories burnt, active minutes, sleep patterns, weight, food intake) but it soon will help keep a tab on vital statistics such as blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate etc. Marrying this rich information with your medical records gives us the magic formula to save lives!

Welcome to Connected Healthcare.

The Internet was originally about connecting people and their digital assets. The Internet of Things (IoT) takes it a step forward by directly connecting these devices to one another. When mission critical data or in this case life-saving information is now shared in real time and preventive actions are triggered; amazing things can be accomplished. From connecting firemen suits with sensors and location trackers ensuring their physical safety & wellness to having smart prescription medical bottles (vitality glowcaps) increasing the efficacy of medication significantly and proportionately their effectiveness- the list of use cases are endless.1 bpfbsmartscale

Being an active proponent of M2M/IoT and a technology enthusiast I wanted to put it to good use and achieve my ever eluding goal of getting fitter! A quick stop at ensured that a smart wristband along with a shiny new wi-fi enabled weighing scale were on their way- adding to it a smoothie breakfast, 2 runs a week and squash once a week I thought I was all set to get fitter. It worked- but not for the obvious reasons.

Tracking weight, bmi, number of steps I took in a day was all great but what really worked for me was the community effect/peer pressure it created. I now had a list of friends on my fitbit application (running on my HTC One device) and we all secretly competed with each other to lead the pack. I now knew when my peer walked 31Kms over the weekend as he sodded his lawn or a friend went to a wedding and danced her heart out! It was game time and I wasn’t going to throw the towel in. Six weeks in, am down 7 lbs and the hunger to be the most physically active on my friend’s list is still burning within. I can’t seem to get enough of it! The growing excitement around Apple’s much anticipated “Smart watch” might very well shorten the lifetime of my smart wristband, but really the possibilities for M2M/IoT in healthcare are limitless.

Health Insurance companies, federal & provincial governments are spending billions of dollars for Medical facilities management, extending clinical access, assisted living and caregiver programs- it’s turning out to be a no brainer to also spend on IoT sensors and Connected platforms to increase efficiency, improve productivity, lower costs and make healthcare more accessible to patients in need. We are just beginning to scratch the surface on the “art of the possible” with M2M and one day we hope that these tiny sensors will be disrupting most legacy industries and at the same time improving efficiency and productivity.

The promise of M2M/IoT…


Sachin Mahajan, TELUS

It’s 1998 all over again- the technology hype of IoT/M2M is hitting it’s peak! There is intense excitement at all levels from CEO’s to analysts to grass roots developers; expecting a windfall overnight, so to speak.  Well, I really wouldn’t blame them given the hype created by the latest acquisitions of Google Nest,Thingworx (IoT Platform)and a few others. The ecosystem and all other external/internal factors are coming together to make it a tangible reality in the short term- but let’s peel the onion a little bit to better understand how we monetize it and make a decent return on invested capital.

Like building a house where you have different contractors come do the flooring, wiring, painting etc in the M2M world we have 4 different components- the app provider, system integrator, connectivity provider and hardware manufacturer. Off the lot the hardware manufacturers take home abt 30-40% of the revenue, and the rest split 3 ways for the other 3 today. Going fwd., given the fast commoditization of the bit pipe the connectivity providers will be left with 2-3% of the ecosystem’s revenues and hence the large scramble from operators to move up or down the value chain- namely fabricating solutions/apps for their customers.Clearly, ‎the smarts lie in choosing the right application group to cater to. At last count we had 12 different industries, 58 application groups and thousands of use cases to tap into. Despite all the hype and the choices, the majority of the revenue is coming from a few applications, namely in the IIoT space.
Outside of logistics, fleet and asset tracking there is not a significant revenue stream today, but in the next 3-4 years, the hope is nearly 50-60% would be attributed to healthcare, public safety and connected buildings. Secondly, when i first started talking to clients to know what they wanted…the common feedback was that we love IoT but feel as if we are standing in an Ikea without a wrench or a manual trying to put together a solution which we have no idea about. Wouldn’t it be great if the traditional telcos sold as IoT in a box, and charged us a monthly subscription fee which we were used to paying. The third learning I had was that there are certain IoT solutions which are not vertical specific but more horizontal-ized and cut across almost all industries, and that really is the sweet spot most companies should focus on.

Regardless, its a very exciting time. The power of IoT has not necessarily been unleashed completely, but we are getting there. Things which were considered science projects a few years back are now coming to life and everyone wants a part of it. Drones are delivering couriers, a tap on a phone and a cab shows up and chances are it might not even have a driver. Imagine the look on the face of a cop who pulled up a driverless car a few months back to give them a ticket for impeding traffic, just to find out that it was driven by an algorithm. My plants text me when they need to be watered.…my house tweets whenever there is a knock on the door…what a fascinating fascinating world, wit IoT truly unlocking “The Art of the Possible”!