You know SAP. They are the big German firm who sells lots of enterprise software. You may not know Gigya. They are a Californian business who manage online identities. But SAP just bought Gigya for USD350mn, and that is a really big deal for you, even though you probably did not realize it.
One of the rising challenges is to know who your customers are. Other businesses rely on the relationship between the phone number and the real person, so the messages they send are not intercepted by fraudsters. Simon Walsh of Telefonica UK talked at RAG London about the reasons customer identification has become increasingly difficult. Meanwhile, the way multiple industries have become over-reliant on too many passwords is leading us to disaster. With passwords failing, and the use of mobile phones for two-factor authentication coming under increasing attack, firms like Gigya stand to profit. They pioneered social logins, where users access online services not by validating themselves with a password unique to that service, but via the profile they had created for a social media site like Facebook. Building upon that base, Gigya will increasingly handle more aspects of a user’s online activity, ranging from payments to security to management of IoT devices.
SAP want to take advantage of Gigya’s strengths so they can leverage all the data they have on consumers, whilst also tightening security. Gigya manages 1.3bn customer identities in total. SAP will become a gatekeeper, able to offer Gigya’s access management technology to others, whilst simultaneously increasing sales to the people who use Gigya. And that makes them partners, or rivals, to telcos. Many people are currently identified by their phone number, leading to an explosion in crimes like SIM swapping or even SS7 espionage to obtain one time passcodes. However, significant developments in how customers are identified will either lead to telcos adjusting their place within the nexus of identity management and security, or to their role being usurped.
A snippet from the takeover press release helps to emphasize how wide-ranging the impact of the SAP-Gigya deal could be.
Combining the data matching and enrichment capabilities of SAP Hybris Profile with Gigya’s consent-based identity data and access management platform will allow us to identify consumers across channels and offer a robust single consumer profile,” said Patrick Salyer, CEO of Gigya. “This is a vital step for digitalizing businesses because companies need to be able to draw accurate conclusions seamlessly across all channels, including web, mobile, in-store or connected devices, and the Internet of Things, as well as collect data about consumer preferences. Together, we are uniquely positioned to drive more effective marketing, sales and service through data, while the customer stays in control of how much data is shared.
If Gigya’s CEO was playing buzzword bingo then his quote scored a full house. But unlike other firms that use buzzwords, Gigya may be able to accomplish all these things, especially with SAP’s resources behind them. They want to link your location – as determined via the mobile phone – with what you are doing over-the-top, and what all your IoT devices are doing too. As a result, they will be in a strong position to verify if a person is who they say they are, and they will also know a lot about what that customer likes. And if that kind of information, and power, is not of interest to your telco, then it really should be.