Communicating Innovative Technologies: Decentralized Identity for Marketers

Helen Garneau
Chief Marketing Officer
Automatic Summary

Decoding Decentralized Identity: Marketing for Advanced Technology

Hello, I'm Helen Garnet, Chief Marketing Officer for NDC O, a tech startup I co-founded in March 2020. We are a leading public-benefit company committed to expanding knowledge and use of decentralized identities. We also work closely with the open source technology community through the Linux Foundation, helping our enterprise customers maximize the utility of their existing data infrastructure for more secure, efficient, and reliable digital operations.

Communicating Complex Topics

The innovations we drive and the technologies we develop are game-changing. However, communicating these complex concepts, such as decentralized identity, to non-technical audiences or even to tech-savvy individuals who might not know about our specific products, is a challenge.

It's essential to tell the story behind our technologies in ways that help everyone grasp, communicate, and ultimately embrace them. After all, driving adoption of a new technology often hinges on successful communication. Throughout my two decades in marketing and public affairs, I’ve found several strategies particularly effective in explaining complex topics:

  • Using inclusive language that is understood by everyone, irrespective of their technical knowledge or background.
  • Utilizing relatable metaphors and analogies to convey complex concepts in a more digestible form.
  • Accounting for language barriers and preconceptions, as everyone might have different mental pictures of the technological terms we use.

Show, Don't Just Tell

A few strategies can make your communication more compelling and engaging, regardless of the complexity of your topic. Here are some methods I’ve found incredibly useful:

  • Focusing on relevant use cases: For instance, with decentralized identity, you can share something as specific as ordering a drink at a bar and showing only necessary information.
  • Using demos and visuals to simplify explanations: Concepts and benefits of use cases can be better understood when demonstrated or visualized graphically.
  • Engaging in interactive experiences: Webinars, meetups, or fireside chats allow for candid conversations about what you offer, fostering learning and better understanding.

Decentralized Identity: A Look at the Future of Digital Trust

Decentralized identity is a concept where individuals can manage their digital identities without needing a centralized authority or intermediary. This is achieved with the transformative power of blockchain technology, resulting in secure, transparent, and tamper-proof records of identity-related information.

Key Concepts of Decentralized Identity

Here are a few key ideas to understand:

  • Verifiable Credentials: These provide proof of information about someone or something, securely and transparently.
  • Peer-to-Peer Interactions: Decentralized identity makes it easier for two parties to communicate directly and privately, ensuring better data management.

There are numerous benefits to using decentralized identity, including better data privacy and security, and enhanced interoperability. For businesses, decentralized identity can help reduce fraud, meet regulatory requirements, cut out manual processes, and even transform business models.

Ultimately, effective communication about complex technology, such as decentralized identity, is about making it relatable and easily understood for everyone. As we find ways to better articulate these concepts, we grow closer to a technologically advanced future where trust and user experience are paramount.

To learn more or get involved in this exciting industry, feel free to reach out to me, Helen Garnet, on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Video Transcription

Hello, good afternoon. Uh My name is Helen Garnet. I am the Chief marketing officer for N DC O A startup. I helped uh co-founded in March of 2020. Um We developed digital solutions and products for verifying data.We are a public benefit company committed to expanding the use and knowledge of decentralized identity and we work heavily in the open source technology community at the Linux Foundation um for where we help uh enterprise customers match, maximize the use of their existing uh data systems and tech stacks uh to ensure digital privacy efficiency and trust.

Um Today, I'm gonna talk a little bit more about the technology that I work on and uh share some of the tips and tricks that I have learned um when communicating and telling the story of our technology. Um I would love it if you could introduce yourselves uh in the chat and also um ask any questions in there and I'll keep an eye out for it. So uh I'll just jump right into it. We only have about 20 minutes. Um So again, I'm honored to be here at the Women Tech Network Global Conference. Um Speaking today. Um, and what I'm really talking about when I talk about decentralized identity and I'll, I'll, I'll break it all down here in a minute. Um, but is the future of Digital Trust? It's a topic that I live and breathe each day. Uh, decentralized Iden identity is, um, is something that I think, uh, you know, we, we have seen the power of it in, uh, the solutions that are, we've built for our customers. Um And it really has the ability to change the future of online interactions as a marketer. Um And somebody who's worked in communications and public affairs for, I guess two decades now, um it's imperative, I believe it's imperative um to be able to communicate such innovate innovative technologies, um such such as decentralized identity um in a way that helps tell the story and that people can understand and communicate and ultimately adopt.

It's really what is communication is really what ensures the adoption of new technology. Um So I'm just gonna share some thoughts today uh that I have on ways that um I've learned to do this and hopefully you can take some of this information back to your teams. So starting out communicating complex topics, um especially to non-technical audiences, but also to technical audiences, complex topics, new topics, new innovations, you know, I think every company, every, at least every enterprise that I know of, they have this like digital transformation imperative that's coming down from, you know, from the top down and they're constantly, you know, there's teams that are R and D teams and all kinds of teams that are constantly looking for the next, the latest, the greatest uh solution um to solve problems of inefficiency regulatory requirements.

Um You know, how can they connect with their customers, uh ensure, um you know, fraud reduction. Um How are they gonna make more money? How are they gonna save money, you know, these things? Um And so it's, it's communicating the be all those benefits in a way that ties into the technology that you're talking about. And then also um to, you know, all leave those um those question, answer those questions for who you're talking to. The, the single most important question I ask myself um when uh and at my sales team does as well um when, when writing a blog speaking at an event, um talking in uh to, to a customer, potential customer, current customer is, do they know what we're talking about? Are we using inclusive language? Are we using um understandable metaphors, analogies? Um Are we, are we able to communicate the story that we are trying to tell? So it doesn't matter if it's a developer and an engineer or a CTO or a CEO, I've probably talked to them all in the last, you know, again, several decades. Um And even though they are very well established in the career, somebody who is incredibly tech, you know, technologically astute and uh you know, um they, they've been around the block, um They might not understand your product, they might not actually understand the technology that you're talking about.

They might not actually understand when I talk about the open source community. What that means? If I say the word Blockchain, they may have a picture in their head of something that is not entirely not what I'm talking about. So it's really important to look at that challenge of um you know, the, the, the the explaining of and telling a story and using a language that's approachable. Um Again, we're talking inclusion, there might be a language barrier, you know, there might be, who knows, they may have again, different pictures in their brains of just of what you're talking about. So we wanna make sure that it, it's, it's easily understood um by the target audience, technical terms in jargon can be confusing and intimidating. Um They might cause people to lose interest or disengage with what you're saying overall. Um And so, you know, create, it can be hard to create compelling messaging that clearly communicates the benefits of, of the technology you're talking about. Um And it might just be overwhelming. So it requires addressing, you know, these challenges requires a strategic approach, um including simplifying, simplifying complex topics. Um you know, using relatable analogies, utilizing real world examples and I'll get into some other examples in a minute.

Um But make the topic accessible um, and relevant to who you're talking to. So this, this slide probably is old hat to a lot of marketers on the call. But, um I just wanna call out some of the kind of tips and tricks that I keep in my, um, in my bag. Um These next couple of slides might, again, might be a little repetitive, but I, I wanna make sure these are called out for maybe non marketers in the room or people who, you know, have startups or, or what have you. But the number one thing that I do when I'm talking about, um a new technology is focusing on relevant use cases. So in the um example of decentralized identity, one of the most, you know, the use case that we always talk about is, you know, you, you walk into a bar or a restaurant and you want to order a drink and you have to show your driver's license, you hand over a plastic card that can be forged, faked, not you unreliable, whatever, lost, stolen, et cetera to the bartender.

And that has, do the, does the bartender need to know your address? Do they, does the bartender need to know you are an organ organ donor? Do they need to know your height or your weight? No, they just want to know that you're over 18. So it's that example that I think really hits home for a lot of people when talking about decentralized identity is how to share information, just enough information to um validate the question that's being asked of you. Are you over 18? Um So that, that's a, that's an example of demonstrating the abstract of this, this thing called decentralized identity um and making it more engaging um and, and simplifying it um again, making it relatable, right? That example is very relatable for anybody um who's, you know, learning for anybody, I think full stop. Um use cases also build credibility. So this is especially when you can point to a customer, I think the greatest thing a marketer has um going for them is when they can publicly talk about um customers, a lot of customers are, are skittish and they, you know, it takes a lot uh I in my experience it takes a lot for a lot of customers to get um to be able to talk about things in a public way.

But if you can get there, that's, that's worth his weight in gold. Um And then um overall just use cases are just an essential tool and I'll, I'll just keep moving for the interest, interest of time. But I think all the marketers on the call know use cases are, are, are where it's at. Um other, other ways that you can what I say show rather than tell, right? Communicating the abstract in a simple manner. Um demonstrations, we all know that if you can get somebody's hands on it um and they can see it um and how it works in a real world scenario, uh you know, demonstrate the benefits of use cases. It's a, again, a quick, quick way to, again, get that um engaging and understanding of, of the topic, visuals. I mean, if you have a good artist on your team, a good graphic design firm that you work with it is again worth its weight in gold um diagrams, flow charts, infographics. These are all ways to again reduce the complexities and um make your subject matter more appro approachable. Um Again, uh you know, case studies, testimonials.

Um Any time when you have those sort of interactive experiences, meetups, webinars, fireside chats where you can talk more candidly about um the about the topic um when you're not trying to um you know, keep it so formal, those are all super awesome ways to help inform educate, learn, you know, et cetera.

So overall, you know, showing rather than telling can be a more effective way to explain complex technology to a nontechnical audience. Um using demonstrations, visuals, case studies, et cetera, um can really make it more, yeah, relatable and increase the adoption of what you're trying to do.

So with that, we have about 10 more minutes. So, and now I'm gonna kind of switch over and talk you um focus on the use case. Um Again that I, that I work in which is a decent decentralized identity and hopefully you'll be able to walk away with um kind of a basic understanding of what this technology is and um how to um where to go to if you want to learn more. So first we're gonna talk about some of the key concepts, go into a little bit about the architecture and then talk about the uses and benefits of it. So I think the easiest way uh besides the uh kind of the driver's license analogy, uh for example, is to kind of go back to basics. So this is one of the most famous New Yorker cartoons I think ever, ever printed, ever in existence. I think everyone has probably seen this at some point in time. Um But you know, the one dog is saying to the other dog on the internet, no one knows you're a dog, right? Anybody can be anybody, anybody can say they're anybody online. And that's the both, you know, a beauty and a curse. But it basically the internet was created without a way of positively identifying the people and organizations that use it.

So, you know what rather than um being able to see somebody and you know, have established that trust, they found other ways to, to, to establish that trust. So we use things like email addresses. My email is Helen at N DC O dot tech. I am an employee at N DC O dot tech. They give me my email address and that proves that trust that I work for that company um Physical hardware. So, you know, UBI keys or your, you know, computer button that you, you know, scan your finger in or you, you know, your biometrics or whatever physical hardware saying is this face the person that owns this device, um exchange of key secrets. Um somehow. So you again, we'll get the user name and, and pass throughs in a minute, but some sort of exchanging of secrets is a way of, of establishing that trust. Um clicking on images. That's the, you know, the newest thing I, you know, prove if you're not prove you're a human, you're not a robot clicking on, you know, whatever fire hydrants or railroad tracks or anything like that. That's also um part of this uh idea of, of establishing trust or rotating codes. M fa you know, open up your, your app and, you know, give them the six digit number, have one sent to your um your email address or whatever. Always.

Um at the end of the day, this is, this is about establishing trust. Um And ensuring that how do you know the information that somebody is sharing with you is valid? How do you know that they are actually human? How do you trust someone to verify them in their data? And these are always to do that again. The most common way that uh you know is I've, that, that we see is user names and passwords. I think the current number is, you know, somebody has, the average person has upwards of, you know, several 100 user names and passwords. Um, they're hard to manage. I, I forget them all the time. I'm always having to reset them. They're expense, they can be expensive to reset.

There's a lot of systems and API S that are very expensive for such a small company, um, to have to manage on behalf of their members or customers. Um They're subject to fraud and misuse, right? I, you know, if you wanna share a password with somebody so that they can access your account, we know that there's a lot of examples out there where that's, you know, problematic and that's um can be harmful for again the bottom bottom line of a, of a business. Um And then they also can be, you know, hack breached and et cetera, right? Everyone has gotten those emails that say, oh your, your email or your personal information was linked to some, you know, the latest and greatest cyber threat or, you know, cyber cybercrime, um they're just not safe, they're not secure. And the point of all of this, right, the point of all of these different ways of establishing trust um is because they, this is a centralized identity model. Um they are establishing, they're establishing the systems to establish trust, but there are, there are problems there, right?

The the data is controlled, my information is shared and handled by third parties by my Gmail account, by my Hotmail account, by my, you know what, whatever by Facebook, by linkedin. Um It's, it's a third party that manages it on my behalf and I have to trust that they do the right thing with it uh in the way that I want them to do it. Um consent, compliance, tracking and transparency are all difficult to achieve. So again, when we're talking about um how to make sure that a a large organization is not um mismanaging my personal data. We know that there's examples, right, where that has been problematic and they've had to pay huge fines. We have GDPR and C CPA and a ton of regulations that are coming out saying you can't mismanage information. Well, great. But how do we make sure at a tech level that that's possible to um to follow through with um and then to gain efficiency and trust entities must integrate systems which is difficult, costly and compromises privacy. So great. So we don't wanna um you know, have to um you know, send data in packets or whatever over the internet. So they do in, you know, different integrations that can be extremely expensive, partner integrations, customer integrations very expensive.

So how is it that we can, you know, change or like past data from one place to another? Um And really the biggest, you know, the there there is a financial cost, right? I've been talking about all these very expensive, you know, regulations and systems, there is a cost to the digital identity problem, right. So for businesses again, fraud hacks, breaches legal legal concerns over state of privacy, loss of productivity, long road maps, agonizing road, you know, technologically, um you know, hurd techno technological hurdles um where tech teams have to spend a lot of time and energy building these custom integrations just to be able to communicate information on a secure way for, for customers friction, all types of friction, reset.

If I have to reset my password one more time, I swear, I'm I'm gonna go insane. Um Poor uh poor customer experience drop off rates, right? Not wanting to complete the steps to um uh sign up for, to be a member or whatever on a website. Um And then privacy, right? Like I, I don't want to be tracked. I don't want my personal information to be, then, you know, turned around and sold or shared or um monitored in ways that I don't feel comfortable with. So how do we create these sort of peer to peer interactions? How do we, how do we send data from one place to another? And in DC O and what, where we, where I work with every day it's decentralized identity. So this is a way of uh decentralized identity is a concept where that refers to an individual's ability to manage digital identity without the need for centralized authority or intermediary. Um So this is achieved through the use of Blockchain technology, which we can talk about in a minute.

Um But to enable secure, transparent and tamper proof, record keeping of identity related related information. So, decentralized identity offers greater control over personal data and privacy. Um and the potential to transform the way we we manage and authenticate any type of data online.

So, you know, not just the example of the the the driver's license, but also um you know, any, any type of uh digital information that needs to be shared from one place to another photos, uh you know, bank records, financial institutions, um you know, and there's, there's a number of information that has to be shared to multiple parties.

Um and decentralized identity is the easiest, quickest, most secure way um of doing it. The other concept and kind of key thing to understand about uh decentralized ide identity is a verifiable credential. So verifiable credential at the core is a digital credential that provides a proof of information about somebody or something. So when we talk about the verifiable credential, we're talking about uh a tech uh a sort of a string of, of digits, um it's not a picture per se, it can be, but it's not, you know, it's when we're not talking about uh like a passport in your in your um portfolio here, it's a tamper evident and crypto cryptographically secured, a digital asset um that allows uh to uh that is able to be verified independently by anybody who needs to verify it.

Um So, oh, sorry. Yeah, just have a few minutes left. Um So, verifiable credentials are a key component to decentralized identity. I wanna make sure that we get through to um the architecture here. You can see that um this, this system varies differently from what we currently have where you have to ask a third party. In this case, you can see the issuer will, will issue a verifiable credential to the holder and the holder will then present it to the verifier. And it's you the person who's in charge of the information at any given time. The benefits of decentralized identity are huge privacy, security, interoperability. Um These are, I can go into each one of these uh a lot more, but these are uh very important, very, you know, key benefits of the core of, of this techno at the core of this technology um enterprises and where we stayed on the business side, again, fraud reduction, meeting regu regulatory requirements, uh reducing manual processes, reducing um required resources when delivering new systems and services.

And for people, the individual user, the enhancement of their experience, the the better data sharing, um the enablement of new business models, the modernization of payments, you know, doing things in a way that's more, more direct, more private, more secure. So we're right at time.

That was a quick 20 minutes, but uh the key takeaway is, is, you know, uh a articulating complex and technical concepts in this most simple way that you can find, you know, your target audience, but don't assume their knowledge level. And if you're interested in learning more about decentralized identity and verifiable credentials, um just remember that they're an easy, efficient, secure way to build trust and improve user experience. And please reach out again. I'm, I'm Helen Garner. I'm pretty much the only Helen Garner I, I think on, on linkedin or Twitter. Um And you have a great day. Thank you so much, everybody.