Ai Editorial: Managing Cross-device Identity

Managing cross-device identity – it’s about helping and knowing customers

Passengers today look for better management of their digital identity, and brands, too, need to aid them and also serve them better via cross-device tracking, writes Ritesh Gupta, Ai Correspondent

How can I have more control over my digital identity? It’s a valid question as no ones like to manage so many usernames and passwords in one’s digital life.

We log in to apps, sites and devices. It can be quite a tedious job to remember all the passwords. Passwords aren’t expected to go away, but there is a chance that you could be soon logging in via facial recognition software.

Also, as much as a consumer is besotted by the idea of not to remember so many passwords, airlines, too, need to explore what they can do in this era of cross-device usage by identifying digital users with as much accuracy as they can. How tracking can be improved upon to serve a relevant message or aid in the journey of a passenger. This would translate into a customer experience, where one would be recognized for a true one-to-one experience.

Let’s assess some developments in the arena of digital identity and cross-device tracking, and how the same is impacting the overall customer experience:

  • Making accessibility simpler: The use of several devices, and accessing same or different apps and sites is quite common. We would dread the idea of remembering passwords for all. Recognizing that passwords can be shared or stolen, Intel is already working on app that remembers passwords and automatically fills them in when one returns. Essentially it’s about logging in with your “face”. The company has come up with a limited version of facial recognition app, titled True Key.  So how does it work? A user’s distinctive features such as facial math and master password come into play. As for the security part, data isn’t shared or saved, but still nothing is “hack” free, at least of today. But Intel is definitely promising a robust protection in addition to the simplification of password management. A major attraction of this app – a user’s info syncs to all devices that are being used. It’s an absolute must in the age we are living. Intel continues to build and iterate the product. Airlines need to keep an tab on such developments and make the most of it to simplify accessibility of their digital touchpoints.
  • Seamless experience across apps: The number of devices for our booking and also during the time of our journey that we are using is on the rise. In addition to a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, you might already be wearing a smart device on your wrist. Say, you are carrying all of this on the day of travel - iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Your digital identity and journey details need to “synced” across all devices. Tech-savvy brands are already doing this.

“With the addition of handoff and group data sharing HotelQuickly offers a truly seamless experience between all the HotelQuickly family of apps,” says hotel mobile-only booking app HotelQuickly’s COO and CMO Christian Mischler. If you make a booking on your HotelQuickly iPhone/iPad app, you will instantly be able to access that data on the Apple Watch app. If you’re looking at a previous booking on your Apple Watch, handoff will prepare that exact booking on your iPhone so you can view all the details in its entirety. “If you have not yet made any bookings and you are looking at the HotelQuickly app on the Apple Watch, we are preparing the HotelQuickly iPhone app for you to make a new booking. Just look for the HotelQuickly icon on the 'lock' screen of your iPhone and you know the handoff is ready,” says Mischler.

Airlines also need to know the limitation of each technology or app.

For instance, American Airlines, British Airways, New Zealand Air and easyJet have been in news for introducing smart watch services to help flyers check-in and board with QR codes, or alert passengers about flight delays or changes. However, as Leighton’s CEO Lyle McCalmont says, technical infrastructure needs to keep up. “We are already reading reports of Apple Watches not fitting under some airport access scanners,” he points out.

  • Cross-device messaging/ ads: Cross-device tracking is all about recognizing a user behind various devices. Airlines will always struggle to craft an optimized customer experience programme if they aren’t sure of how passengers are interacting across devices. Similarly, what’s their conversion journey looks like. This if not done properly can result in wastage in ad spending, something that’s always been a point of contention when attribution is analyzed. Also, the timing and frequency of messages/ ads can hurt a brand if travellers receive meaningless content.

So what has improved in digital identity as far as tracking a user across various devices is concerned?

The debate around exact match or deterministic approach such as provided by Facebook or any other log in way, and implied match techniques or prediction-based approach continues. The specialists in prediction-based approach are increasingly saying the perceived gap in scale is coming down and so is the variation in the total figure of addressable users for each approach.

A major highlight of prediction-based tracking is that it is set up on data signals from ad requests across the web.

Those who specialize in probabilistic way assert that identify fragmentation is being handled better than ever, driven by machine-learning algorithms. Such specialists count on cross-device data points to probabilistically harmonize mobile device IDs to desktop cookies; forming a bridge between devices. 

So what’s the accuracy of prediction-based approach? There has been talk of over 95% precision. For instance, cross-device technology company Drawbridge shared that its model was 97.3% accurate in indicating a relationship between two or more devices (according to a release in April, 2015).

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