Experts discuss demonstrating the value of digital ID, acknowledging concerns, barriers to adoption, and more

The fact that people have privacy and security concerns around the idea of a digital government is valid and should be acknowledged, said industry heavyweights at the EXCITE fall summit.

Public and private sector technologists should consider whether they are delivering the right message, notably about digital identity, and whether they are demonstrating all the benefits rather than overriding or dismissing the opinions of anyone who’s dubious, explained Giles Sutherland, vice president, Business Development at Interac.

“It takes an incredible amount of trust, let’s say, for Indigenous Persons, who have been failed, many, many times across history, for the government to be a responsible steward of their data,” added Viet Vu, manager, economic research, The Dais at Toronto Metropolitan University.

He continued, “It takes an incredible amount of trust for businesses to share confidential financial data. Sometimes they’re coerced to, but trust that data is going to be protected, that it is not going to be used against their own businesses.”

Building a whole culture around implementing a new technology is key to fostering that trust, Vu stressed. All considerations on digital technology, including upfront investment and operating costs need to be incorporated in that culture.

At the same time, building and creating a talent pipeline in the government of Canada that knows the language of the technology and that can steward the conversations surrounding it, as well as its delivery, is crucial, he noted.

Trust is sometimes, however, not the only issue, rather, a gap in digital equity and skills very often is, the panelists acknowledged.

Newcomers are particularly at a disadvantage, Interac highlighted in a new survey, with over half of respondents saying they or an immediate family member has been targeted by fraud, and 73 per cent wanting to protect themselves from financial scams.

“I think at some point in this evolution of our community, it’s well worth asking – who does it work for? It ends up that the issues around digital participation, access, digital equity at large, are far more prevalent and pernicious than we really would have thought,” explained Jamie Boyd, Canada’s national government digital leader at Deloitte.

Issues around digital equity also impair small businesses in Canada, which in turn, impacts the digital evolution and growth of our economy, Boyd stated.

“Small businesses in Canada are having a really terrible time. When we ask them, why is it that you’re not becoming digital? Number one question. ‘I’ve got money, I just don’t know what to spend it on. I don’t know what investment to make to increase my digital maturity. And I don’t know who to ask. All the advisors that I could hire seems unbearably expensive.’

Identifying the pain points, plus the demographics that are not accessing or leveraging digital services and demonstrating its value is important, added Sutherland.

Showing, he argued, is better than talking about digital ID, because “a lot of conversations saying those two letters [ID] create a whole bunch of noise that we would rather not have.”

He stated, “we don’t need to spend a lot of energy trying to convince or or do a mass branding campaign to get people on board. I think it’s showing and delivering rather than trying to force it.”

This report was published here, in IT Business: