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Businesses: We’ve nailed personalization. Consumers: Um, about that…

Businesses: We’ve nailed personalization. Consumers: Um, about that…

A striking new report illustrates how businesses around the world live in one world while their customers exist in another one when it comes to personalization.

Executives think they are doing a bang-up job addressing their online customers personally. Consumers say they too often feel like a university graduate showing up at the wrong class reunion, according to Experian, one of the big consumer-credit ratings firms. Experian surveyed 650 businesses and 6,500 consumers worldwide for the 2020 Global Identity and Fraud Report.

Mistargeted ads and offers are just background noise for pitch-saturated consumers. And consumers quickly grow frustrated when they have to identify themselves repeatedly as they cross business-unit boundaries online or sections differentiating products and services, for example. Then there is the way that fraud flourishes when positive identification cannot not be assured.

The impacts of identity uncertainty are many and serious. Potential revenue goes unrealized if otherwise interested consumers never see relevant offers. Consumers grow disenchanted with repeated demands for biometrics and password requests. And of course, the cost of fraud continues to grow.

Yet, according to Experian, 95 percent of executives around the globe say they are confident that they can identify customers. Fully 55 percent of consumers do not feel recognized by businesses.

The numbers are not much better in the United States. Ninety-six percent of businesses think they are getting personalization right, while 45 percent of consumers feel anonymous.

Japan had the most dichotomous market place. Eighty-eight percent of business executives are confident, and 86 percent of consumers reported feeling lost in the crowd. Arguably the best performance recorded in the survey came from Indonesia — 64 percent of consumers said they felt recognized by online businesses. And still, 100 percent of Indonesia business executives felt confident they knew customers.

These kinds of mismatches could be attributed to outdated thinking about identity verification on the part of executives who feel passwords are sufficient. The report’s authors instead call traditional credentials “rigid and brittle.” They are like drawbridges, which worked until new attacks made them beside the point. And when they failed, virtually everything of value was exposed for the looting.

What is unfortunate, according to the report, is that business managers are responding to increased threats essentially by building multiple drawbridges in sequence. Multiple traditional credential-based techniques typically can only slow consumers, not criminals.

The report recommends that executives look for security that is flexible, multi-focused and many-layered.

Passively observed data, watched over time, can build an identifiable profile of an individual. Suggestions in the report include recording device configurations, behavioral biometrics (such as user-device behavior), cross-business transaction history, shopping and buying habits and the like.

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