Blog | December 21, 2020

Identity in 2020: A Year In Review


Barely 12 months ago, in the early weeks of January 2020, the Identiverse team held an offsite planning meeting for Identiverse 2020.  At that time, the conference and expo were still scheduled as an in-person event, to take place in Denver, CO.

A few short weeks later, it became clear that plans would have to change, and not just for the conference.  Digital identity professionals, vendors, and organizations large and small around the world who rely on digital identity to enable their workforce, transact safely with their business partners, and maintain relationships with their customers, suddenly found themselves having to adapt their systems and processes at breakneck speed.

This was—and continues to be—a tremendous challenge; and as is so often the case, with challenge comes opportunity.  As one Identiverse attendee puts it: “Obviously, COVID-19 changed everything, but sending everyone home in March and adapting to remote working accelerated a lot of our identity initiatives and blew barriers away.”

Through the course of this year, we’ve seen Identity become recognized within organizations as the critical enabler of digital-first business. Those with transformations already in progress accelerated. Others found themselves embarking on new transformation projects at breakneck speed.  

As a consequence, we’ve rarely seen a busier year for Identity. Standards are being introduced, developed, and consolidated at a rapid pace. New protocols, products, solutions, and architectures are being developed. Legacy systems are being updated to comply with modern approaches.  And Identity is rising up in the public consciousness, too, as Nishant Kaushik (CTO, Uniken) points out: “how many times what we do showed up in popular culture—in movies and tv shows—culminating in that crowning moment when 2FA was a Jeopardy answer!”

Just as we found ourselves having to work, and to socialize, from home, so too did we have to get used to attending conferences remotely.  The 2020 Identiverse format was reimagined for virtual participation, and the schedule adjusted to provide as much opportunity as possible for professionals to interact.  “I loved the fact that for a few weeks I had a place I could go to whenever I had a free moment throughout the day, knowing I could comment on interesting content with longtime friends and industry experts,” says Vittorio Bertocci (Principal Architect, Auth0).  

For Identiverse, remote and virtual attendance was the right—indeed, the only—approach for this year, in much the same way that working from home has become a norm. The burgeoning capability and availability of #WFH tools help, of course… but it’s not quite the same.  How do you reproduce the water-cooler chat, or the sidebar conversation between colleagues passing in a corridor, or grabbing a coffee at a favorite spot opposite the office?  What about the serendipity of an unexpected meeting with a colleague or industry peer visiting from out-of-town? Or the chance encounter with an executive, which might help advance an idea, a project, or even a career?  Yes, we’re getting better at being virtual. Some of the 2020 changes to working and social practices are likely here to stay, and some of these evolutions are probably overdue.  But most will look forward, too, to resuming some level of in-person interaction when we safely can.

And so we look forward to 2021.  From an identity industry perspective, we’ll power ahead with the work that was so accelerated during 2020.  Better security, greater adoption of identity-first security and privacy at an organizational and an individual level.  Advances in specific sectors—particularly Financial Services, Healthcare and Travel.  Increasing awareness of the role that well-regulated and responsibly deployed identity verification can play.

And for Identiverse?  We’re busy planning 2021 as a hybrid event, bringing together an in-person conference in Denver with linked virtual experience, and adding some extra year-round content. The Call for Presentations is open, the Content Committee is gearing up for reviews, sponsors are planning their activities….  2021 is going to be a busy year for Identity, and we look forward to helping it happen.



Andrew Hindle