Digitalisation’s advantages have in some way reached consumers and citizens already – and have made them hungry for more. The flexibility and freedom that are gained when transactions are carried out digitally have been made crystal clear by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government agencies and enterprises alike also benefit from multiple increases in efficiency and cost savings through digital evolution. However, the possibilities for digital interactions with consumers will go much further once their great willingness to accept digital offers is realised. Empowered by consumers’ trust, the use of eIDs as part of digital identities will decisively advance communication in terms of security and usability.
Digitalisation benefits for the work of government agencies and enterprises
Digitalisation has opened up enormous potential for public authorities and enterprises. During the (unfortunately still ongoing) pandemic, working remotely is what made it possible to maintain business operations in the first place. From one day to the next, staff were suddenly working from home instead of the office, typically without shortcomings in productivity. It was also possible to meet obligations towards customers as service could be maintained despite office doors being closed to the public.
Corona was certainly a catalyst for this change and in just a few months propelled digitalisation forward more than politicians could in years. For example, in e-government there was greater momentum than had previously been the case as digital visits to public authorities for administrative procedures became more important than ever when physical access was prohibited.
Across all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated enterprises' digital transformation.
The Corona pandemic created enormous pressure to act and led to a noticeable push to digitalise. As a result, the opportunities for working digitally with public authorities and companies became clear quickly:
- Tools for cooperation and collaboration optimise productivity in the workforce.
- Effective digital customer journeys, from the initiation of a business transaction through the conclusion of a contract, enable prospects to become new customers completely independently. This improves efficiency in customer acquisition and provides a better user experience.
- Online meetings save valuable working time and travel costs.
- Flexible work models offer the option of working productively from home, increase an enterprise’s appeal for applicants and ensure greater satisfaction among the workforce. In addition, employers can often save considerable costs on office space.
- Digital communication solutions maintain connections internally and externally and enable the exchange of information.
New work and digitalised processes are here to stay
Many of the changes that the pandemic triggered in everyday work will remain because of the tangible and undeniable benefits for all. The catalyst for these changes may have been COVID-19 but the enabler of all this was and is the digital revolution which helped government agencies and enterprises save significant time and money and gave better service to the public. This evolution will continue to add even more value going forward.
When investments in digital offerings see a return: Amazon’s brand value skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Digital identity is the most important digitalisation project"
Markus Richter, German Federal Commissioner for Information Technology
(Federal CIO), in June 2021 in the podcast "Aus Regierungskreisen"
However, for government agencies and enterprises to successfully transfer business activities and establish them in the digital space it is important that they enable the necessary IT security for all parties involved. It is of crucial importance that citizens and customers trust this security. After all, this is the only way to successfully convince them that digital interactions can be secure. And it is precisely this trust that public authorities and enterprises can establish by integrating the use of digital identities into their offerings.
In digital communication with citizens and in B2C exchanges, trust is an irreplaceable prerequisite
In order for business relationships between enterprises and customers as well as contacts between public authorities and citizens to be successfully initiated and established, it is necessary to first create a basis of trust. We have all been there: in conducting business, sensitive data (such as name, address, date of birth, or bank information) is required and personal data is often transferred during this correspondence. Particularly in healthcare, information is very personal when it comes to the exchange of medical data between clinics, doctors, patients, and health insurance companies.
Committing to sending your own data to third parties requires trust in security, meaning faith that the data will be transferred securely and confidentially. By the same token, it is equally important that the data arrives at the correct recipient and originates from the actual sender. It is therefore necessary to trust that
- the data is secure in transit and
- that the identity of the communication partners is clearly authenticated.
Neither should be taken for granted; rather, they must first be established in communication between correspondents. Public authorities and companies have a duty here: as a rule, digitalised processes are anonymous for users. They do not see their counterparts and have no insight into what is actually happening on the other side of the screen. Yet somehow, they must still be able to trust that their communication is protected and that they are safe when using digital services.
Trust has been building but still has a long way to go: in 2020, over two thirds of Germans did not think their personal data was safe on the internet.
For public authorities and enterprises it is therefore important that their digital offerings are designed with this priority and are made trustworthy.
This obligation also brings rewards: public authorities and companies also benefit from secure communication with their correspondents. For example, through proven identities staff have certainty that the data sent really comes from the stated recipient and not from some dubious source.
Every day in the news, we see valuable data falling into the wrong hands or in-house IT security being undermined by hacker attacks, be it because of ransomware or identity theft. Being able to avoid such attacks or security breaches is priceless for any organisation.
Successfully establishing trust to build sustainable relationships
How can public authorities ensure that received documents really come from the actual sender?
How can enterprises successfully convince people to engage in digital B2C dealings?
Digital proof of identity provides an effective remedy here. Digital identities are clearly assignable and present a means of authentication that cannot be guessed or passed on as easily as, for example, passwords. Anyone who has identified themselves in an online transaction or data transmission by means of an eID has proven their identity unambiguously and has been verified by an accredited third party. This creates the security and the trust on which a sustainable relationship can be built. The big advantage: when using eIDs, the individual user is no longer the active, determining factor for the strength of security. Having an eID means users are no longer burdened by password creation and management. Hence, security does not come at the expense of usability.
- How do eIDs actually work and what advantages do they offer compared to the traditional methods of identity authentication?
- What is the eIDAS regulation and what is its relevance for eIDs?
You will find out the answers to these questions in our next blog post.