Fashion: sales agents role

[Fashion] "Sales agents play a key role in brand development!"

Fashion: sales agents role

Jérôme Tordjmann runs the Talk sales agency, specialising in urban fashion and streetwear, in both physical and digital environments. He answers 4 questions put to him by Aline Abeya, Sales Manager France & Benelux at Webhelp Payment Services.

The role of a sales agent is to help fashion brands, whether they are emerging or well established, to grow in a market. And in these complex times, they play the even bigger role of a facilitator. So at Webhelp Payment Services, we pay particular attention to our relationship with sales agents, to whom we offer a comprehensive range of payment services. Your agency, Talk, specialises in urban fashion and streetwear. Can you tell us a bit more about what you do?

Jérôme Tordjmann: I set up the Talk agency and have been running it since June 2019. It’s one of the subsidiaries of JV Fashion which I established in 2006. Talk specialises in urban fashion and streetwear for men and women on a B2B basis.

Our team of 7 people offers selective or comprehensive support in 3 areas:

managing sales in France and around the world (business development, sales, after-sales), with the overall management of billing, payments and debt collection taken care of in partnership with Webhelp Payment Services

creating temporary sales outlets: in-store corners, pop-up shops and shop-in shops (Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Samaritaine, etc.), as well as recruiting and managing teams, training, merchandising and logistics. We also have a permanent showroom in central Paris, and we rent temporary showrooms during the fashion weeks in January and June.

– organisational consultancy: marketing, positioning, creating or adapting collections, artistic direction. We work alongside brands in all these areas, in both physical and digital environments – in the phygital world if you like. As far as the digital world is concerned, we can help brands with marketplaces like Zalando and Amazon which are becoming more and more influential from a commercial point of view.

So to sum up, we help a lot with “value creation”: sales agents play a key role in developing fashion brands!

To give you an idea of how well Talk is growing, our turnover has doubled each season.

Can you describe the kind of brands that you work with?

J.T.: They are often European brands, and exclusively involved in young, urban fashion and streetwear. We want to build and promote a really consistent world.

We work regularly with around fifteen brands, including: Daily Paper, ARTE Antwerp, Foret, The New Originals, Libertador, Mercer, Ksubi, Shaka, Rise of Human and Dechase.

Webhelp Payment Services offers sales agents a comprehensive range of payment services, from billing to debt collection, both nationally and internationally. And of course paying the agent their share after being paid by the client brand. What does your partnership look like?

J.T.: I’ve been working with Webhelp Payment Services since 2006, when it was called FDI. Talk’s clients are mainly adopting solutions like order analysis, payment plans, debt collection, credit insurance and customer scoring, both in France and internationally.

So at the moment we are not using the other services that Webhelp Payment Services offers sales agents, such as imports, logistics, paying commissions and KYC.

We are also in discussions with Webhelp Payment Services about offering some emerging brands the chance to embrace processes geared towards wholesale management. This is so that we can work together to help them grow in areas such as managing customer receivables, multi-brand stores and other strategic organisational issues.

How do you see the future of fashion brands in an era of marketplaces and online stores?

J.T.: Quite apart from the pandemic, online sales are booming. These sales compensate, sometimes to a large extent, for the decline in business for multi-brand retailers for example.

So clearly, we need to think about the development of large generalist marketplaces, like Zalando and Amazon, as well as more specialist platforms. We help brands within this environment, which is often new to them.

However, I sincerely believe that opposition to online shops is no longer a big deal. On the contrary, we are seeing the rise of a phygital approach, combining sales in physical stores with digital channels, trying to find the right balance.

The most dynamic emerging brands understand this: I can see that all the ones that we work with have an online store, which gives them a revenue stream, consolidates their financial and commercial position, and lastly, speeds up their growth.

Therefore, a phygital approach is a real opportunity for fashion brands, if they know how to manage it!

To find out more about this topic

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Alderman Vos Helix

Alderman James Vos visits Claremont site

As growth of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in Cape Town continues to be recognised as a key driver of investment, up-skilling and jobs in the city, our South Africa team were delighted to welcome Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos, and the department’s Portfolio Committee to our Claremont site.

The visit was part of a large piece of work Alderman James Vos is doing to promote Cape Town and the BPO sector, working directly with Cape BPO and BPO providers. Ranked first in the world as the most favoured offshore destination in last months BPO omnibus, over the past 3 years the BPO sector in Cape Town has attracted R3,4 billion worth of investments fuelling economic growth and employment.

Alderman James Vos explained:

When I was given oversight over the City’s Enterprise and Investment Department in 2018, one of my main goals was to see the City of Cape Town make meaningful strides in the fight against unemployment and to stoke economic growth. We could achieve this by targeting high growth sectors such as BPO and working with our Strategic Business Partners in those industries. The result is a phenomenal R3,4 billion in investments pumped into the economy in the past three years alone. The sector employs more than 60 000 people in the city, with over 17 037 of them gaining employment in the last three years.

“This goes to show that Cape Town, despite these trying times, is still seen as one of the preferred destinations for contact centres to base their operations. As a high-performance African business hub, we are working on all fronts with investors, high growth sectors and small to medium enterprises to create the right conditions for investment and development.

The BPO sector also drove over R1,2 billion in investments in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic with Brandon Aitken, Webhelp’s Chief Commercial Officer in South Africa, saying:

Despite the pandemic, we have brought eight new clients to South Africa since the start of 2020 and in doing so created 2050 South African jobs, with 1400 of these roles coming to Cape Town. International clients from the retail sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America, as well as the travel sector, have driven this exceptional growth. Looking ahead, 2021 promises to be another year of new and exciting employment opportunities for young South Africans.


Data revolution: how APIs can and should accelerate your Digital Transformation

Colin Clive, Director of Platforms & Engineering, looks at the history of APIs, and the value they can and should bring to your business.

APIs: a history

The Application Programming Interface or API as it is more commonly known refers to the modern approach of using HTTP to provide access to data. APIs allow software applications and digital services to talk to each other. They return and send raw data, which can be in a standard machine readable format, and are primarily used to support the integration of systems. Modern Web APIs became mainstream in the early 2000s when new start-ups such as Salesforce, Amazon, and eBay published Web APIs to make services available to customers and third party providers.

Since then, APIs have been behind the technology revolution in a number of sectors, and has improved the customer experience in each of these sectors. This includes Financial Services, where the use of Open Banking opened up commerce and payments, and Social Media, where APIs became the power behind the platforms used by giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

You can find more information here on APIs including a link to a popular dissertation on Representational State Transfer (REST) by Roy Fielding, which laid the foundations of Web APIs that we use today.

The Value that APIs can Bring

When an organisation can make it simple to exchange information both internally and externally, it opens up massive opportunities. It is a misconception that APIs are only there to be used by Technology professionals to build applications. They can also be used simply to provide access to a wide range of data sets. To enable this, it is important to make the APIs accessible to non-developers using API tooling that doesn’t require any knowledge of coding.

A simple and powerful starting point is to outline clear instructions, detailing how to use the APIs and where to find to them. Extending this simple concept to your partners or customers opens up the provision of data and digital capabilities outside the organisation, without the need for time consuming and expensive technology integrations.

Of course, with increased interconnectivity comes increased security risk, and APIs are no different. It’s vitally important that organisations employ API security best practices, including API gateways and data encryption, to ensure the APIs are accessible to those who need them, and nobody else.

How APIs can accelerate Digital Transformation

Simplicity is the key to innovation and accelerating Digital Transformation. The focus of the Technology team should be to remove the backend complexity and provide a catalogued suite of APIs that will open up functionality and data to clients and partners.

However, this is not just about Technology. In an API-first organisation, the API strategy should be linked to and driven by business needs, with business owners defining the details of the API contracts, i.e. the data to be sent or received, how it is requested, and the events that allow the data to be sent or received.

With the technology in place and the key business experts involved in defining and prioritising, the capabilities to be integrated through APIs will allow for innovation, and the unlocking of value, at a rapid pace. Working in collaboration with clients to react to changing customer needs through already created and available APIs will accelerate the speed of achieving digital transformation.

What we’re doing at Webhelp

In business process outsourcing, the seamless integration of data and functionality between the client and the outsourcer is paramount to providing the best Customer Experience and insight.

With this in mind, Webhelp is currently putting in place an API infrastructure and deploying an API Gateway to manage, secure, and monitor a rich suite of APIs that will be available internally and – more importantly – externally, to our partners and clients. With an initial focus on data exchange, we will provide an open and secure mechanism over the public internet to allow the common data required for seamless operational reporting and business intelligence through Partner APIs.

We will provide a standard suite of APIs that will be accessible, catalogued, and simply defined using common industry standards. This will allow our clients and partners to use the APIs from Day 1 without the need of any timely and costly IT set up. All that is required is access to a reliable and performant internet connection.

 

Nothing stands still. The ability to develop new APIs and change existing APIs at pace to drive digital transformation, will require a shift from a traditional monolithic design to a cloud-native design supported by modern technology. To support this, Webhelp are moving to a modern enterprise digital platform, leveraging the best practice in the technology industry. This platform, combined with a team of highly skilled engineers using Development, Security and Operations (DevSecOps) to deliver securely at speed, will provide the ability to deploy APIs to the business, and to partners, at lightning speed.


AI content

Impact of AI on online content moderation

We have all heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the numerous potentials impacts it will or already has on our daily lives.

Machine Learning through Data Annotation is teaching computers to recognize what we show them, what we say, and how to react accordingly.

When trained well, the impacts it could have on online Content Moderation seem quite straightforward at first. Nonetheless, we will see that AI brings opportunities in the field as well as new challenges, not forgetting that we are only witnessing its genesis – there is still great room for improvement.

Implementing the process, but not totally developed yet

Virtually, AI seems to be a no-brainer as it will take the hit on the most sensitive contents. It will work as a fully impartial chooser instead of moderators having to approve or deny harmful posts.

This is currently put into practice within Webhelp – thanks to our in-house technology handling a growing part of the incoming User-Generated Contents, and attributing priority levels for moderators to take care of the most urgent ones first.

We have established that if AI obtains total control over what can appear on the internet, it will start to get messy very quickly. 2020 pushed tech giants to send workers home and to rely on algorithms to moderate their platforms. As soon as this happened, issues were observed across the two extremes. In fact, on Twitter, there was a steep increase of 40% of hate speech in France, while Facebook and Google both doubled the number of pieces of content flagged as potentially harmful material from Q1 to Q2.

Several examples of artificially intelligent moderators failing their tasks have been observed as not being able to understand human expressions in the first instance, such as irony, sarcasm, or more striking and unambiguously harmful words, however when they are put into context they reveal to be harmless.

This happened over a live chess game on YouTube which has been taken down due to hate speech, but only chess strategy was talked about. The limitations Artificial Intelligence encounters start to fade away as researchers from the University of Sheffield are starting to successfully integrate context in Natural Language Processing algorithms. This technology will be able to detect the differences of languages across communities, races, ethnicities, genders and sexualities, but as Ofcom says: “Developing and implementing an effective content moderation system takes time, effort and finance, each of which may be a constraint on a rapidly growing platform in a competitive marketplace”.

Beneficial in fighting discrimination and derogatory speech online

Following an objective of moderating online content solely through Artificial Intelligence, several start-ups are arising in the market with ever-improving AI-driven solutions. Bodyguard is a great example of this new generation of players implementing technology fighting hate speech and other ailments. The platforms themselves have started developing their own tools: Pinterest unveiled AI that powers its Content Moderation and highlighted its benefits since its implementation: over a year, non-compliant reports have declined by 52% and self-harm content by 80% in the past two years. As we already mentioned, the quality and the quantity of labelled data is key -Facebook, thanks to 1 billion Instagram photos, has also succeeded in developing an innovative image-recognition AI system aiming at moderating the platform almost instantly. As it has just been launched, we are not able to appreciate SEER’s (SElf-supERvised) direct effects on the platform yet.

Watching out for the deepfakes

While these new technologies have potential for positive impact on Content Moderation, they have also created new challenges which plenty of us have already come across, growingly without even noticing it: deepfakes. When analyzing the credibility of content sources, AI can more easily recognize a bot that would be used by malicious users to amplify disinformation, and we can reasonably assume that it would do so for AI-created deepfakes. This issue is way more difficult to detect for the human eye, but appropriately trained moderators, supported by the right AI-driven tools is the perfect combination to complement purely automated or purely human moderation, quickly and effectively.

The first big reveal when it comes to this technology is Microsoft’s deepfake detection tool which has been trained on over 1,000 deepfake video sequences from a public dataset, in a similar manner Facebook has trained its moderation AI. Disruptors also enter the market: platforms like Sensitivity.ai are specialized in detecting face-swaps and other deepfakes which can have deep impacts on the political scene for instance. In fact, the most famous and recent example of deepfake was the face swap of Tom Cruise on Chris Ume’s body and which effect was that it impressed a consequent part of the internet and went viral. When applied to politic speeches, debates or else from official, the impacts could be way more considerable.

AI is not the silver bullet – there’s still room for improvement

Artificial Intelligence is a solution for greater accuracy and efficiency in Content Moderation. Nonetheless, it must not be forgotten that there is still huge room for improvement, as well as growing challenges because of its development for malicious purposes. It is important for any social platform and online community to appreciate how central Artificial Intelligence is becoming in the Moderation field, as both a threat and an opportunity.

Reacting accordingly by getting the right combination of human moderators and technological solutions is in fact needed, as the possibility the impacts on real life and brand image it could generate might rapidly become overwhelming.

 

Author

Thomas Japy

Digital Content Services Business Analyst

Contact the author
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Webhelp to broaden non-profit initiative to support education and inclusion worldwide

As a Think Human company, Webhelp fosters an inspirational culture, one through which Webhelpers are encouraged to make a difference in the world. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) has always been at the core of Webhelp’s identity, which is why we’ve championed the support of global charity initiatives since 2015.

Over the years, it’s become clear that the broad disparity in access to education often impacts people’s lives significantly. Exclusion can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background, and just a set of unfortunate circumstances, coupled with a lack of support, could have people left behind.

The founding of SHARED Foundation 

Charged to address the issue in 2015, Webhelp launched the SHARED Foundation (Solidarity, Humanitarian, Aid, Environment, Diversity) under the Foundation of France. SHARED’s mission was to support professional integration and employability by promoting access to general education and digital skills development.

SHARED has supported local associations in the countries where Webhelp operates under the French region. In 2019, Webhelpers began coordinating initiatives to identify local associations in each country and opened the opportunity for employees to participate in volunteer projects. Over the last five years, SHARED has helped 15 associations across eight countries, enabling over 2,000 people to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the local job markets.

An international mission: Think Human Foundation

SHARED’s success in the French-speaking part of the Webhelp world made it possible to envision a more significant impact and fight against inequality in the over 50 countries where Webhelp branches sit.

In January 2020, Webhelp, together with its shareholders and Olivier Duha, co-founder and CEO of the group, formed Think Human Foundation to promote this development globally. The foundation has the same goals as SHARED but with a much broader scope. Webhelpers worldwide can advance our people-first commitment by supporting local charity initiatives, be it financial, time, or expertise support.

Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-founder of Webhelp, remarked:

“Since the creation of SHARED Foundation in France in 2015, we’ve managed to grow Webhelp’s initiative to a force with a global reach, today known as Think Human Foundation. At Webhelp, we believe that education and inclusion are integral for a person to build their life, which is why it’s our mission to promote and foster more equitable opportunities for people to find their place in the workforce,”

“This foundation is more than a charity because our Webhelpers will dedicate their time towards working with local communities, regional networks, and national governments to create opportunities for people in the professional world. We are so proud that this global charity initiative has all the support of the global Webhelp family.”

To learn more about Think Human Foundation, visit the website at thinkhumanfoundation.org.


Albania Article multinlingual

Webhelp expands with launch of multilingual site in Albania

Albania Article multinlingual

Webhelp partners with global beauty client to bolster customer service

Milan, Italy – 29 April 2021

Webhelp, a leading global customer experience and business solutions provider, has proudly launched a new site in Tirana, Albania, as part of its strategic growth in the Italian market.

The site was officially opened on 15th April 2021 and will support a global beauty client by providing full-fledged customer service support to bolster their customer experience.

Andrea Coli, Chief Executive Officer at Webhelp Italy, said:

“We are very proud to open our Tirana site and strengthen our unique best shoring capabilities, particularly for the Italian market. We are eager to grow our team in Albania and support new and existing partners while contributing to the local economy through career development opportunities. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with our new partner and are excited to work with such a global leader in the beauty industry.”

Since the site opening, the business is in the process of hiring and intends to create 200 jobs initially, growing to as many as 500 team members in 2022. The Albania site, selected for the geographical proximity to existing Italian operations, will offer customer experience and content management services to global clients mainly in Italian, English, German, Spanish and can offer service in Albanian and Greek for local partners.

This expansion marks the latest addition to Webhelp’s strong best-shoring network, built to leverage the strengths of its many locations to best serve local and international clients in Europe.

The Tirana office will be managed by Webhelp’s team in Milan, which also covers Italy and the Czech Republic.

Webhelp plans to utilize its 20 years of experience, dynamic expertise, and global way of working to contribute to Tirana’s economic development and the success of the customer experience industry in Albania.

Driven by a vision of making business more human and a solid and unique company culture based on a community of over 75,000 passionate game-changers, Webhelp thrives on making an impact by helping clients in a way that can deliver real value.


B2B Marketplace payment terms

B2B Marketplace: how to reduce payment terms?

B2B Marketplace payment terms

Payment terms, if not met, do businesses a disservice by depriving them of a source of funds. In the case of B2B marketplaces, which act as a link between professional sellers and buyers, it will be crucial to manage these deadlines by offering tailor-made solutions adapted to the business lines and operating models.

Although the Modernisation of the Economy Act (LME), which entered into force on 5 August 2008, made it possible to reduce payment terms and thus improve the cash flow of some suppliers, these payment terms vary greatly from one sector to another*.

On average, payment terms are 44 days for customers across all industries, with 25 days for commercial customers compared with 55 days for manufacturing industries. Within these same industries, companies pay their suppliers between 42 and 61 days on average.

B2B Marketplace payment terms

How can one remove barriers and offer buyers payment terms while keeping control of the seller’s cash flow and exposure to risk?

This is the equation that operators must solve in order to convince buyers to finalise a transaction and to ensure that sellers use the marketplace as a strategic axis for growth.

As a payment institution, Webhelp Payment Services is used to working with different business sectors such as fashion, agri-food, pharmaceuticals and manufacturers. We offer marketplace operator customers solutions specific to their customer strategy, including maintaining control of payment terms and deadlines in order to reduce risk. In fact, it is up to the marketplace operator to define the rules that apply on its marketplace. It thus directs the buyer towards a risk-free but potentially prohibitive prepayment, or towards payment on the due date, which facilitates the transaction but places a financial risk on the seller.
The payment terms themselves contain a number of elements that facilitate risk management, such as payment dates or the method of payment (bank transfer, direct debit, financing plan, etc.). Also, this decision-making phase is even more crucial than the transactional phase because it will help avoid problems in the future.

 

Tailored solutions to reduce payment terms

In addition to its function of bringing sellers and buyers together via the platform, the marketplace makes it possible to automate the tracking of invoices until they are integrated into the interested parties’ CRM. Automation of the process thus allows considerable time savings between invoicing and payment, significantly reducing the payment date.

To reduce and control payment terms on your marketplace, our experts support you based on the profile of the transaction and the buyer with tailor-made solutions adapted to your situation:

  • Is this a first purchase?
  • Do you have qualitative information about the buyer and their payment behaviour (have they ever had outstanding payments to their bank? Do they have overdue debts?)
  • What is the transaction worth? (a €100 purchase does not involve the same financial risk as a €50,000 purchase)
  • Is the buyer covered by credit insurance?

Finally, it will be essential to set up a proper credit management process, following-up overdue invoices and a step by step reminder and recovery process (amicable, pre-litigation, litigation).

 

Our experts will recommend good practice to suit your situation:

  • If it’s the first transaction between a seller and the buyer: focus on zero risk 

In the case of a new customer it is preferable to offer only prepayment by credit card or bank transfer to reduce the risk of unpaid invoices (order not despatched until payment has been received).

If you know your customer, you can give them the choice of payment method. Alternatively, you can calculate the customer’s outstanding payments and offer the customer only prepayment if outstanding payments are already very high in your marketplace.

Either way, these management rules are decisions for which the operator is responsible and are applied in the marketplace via the PSP and the platform.

  • The due date has passed 

Above all, it will be necessary to manage an incremental approach to future payment reminders. A customer who is late in paying is not necessarily a bad customer. Also, it is advisable to send the first reminder by e-mail or SMS, then to space out reminders so that they are not perceived as harassment.

However, if after several weeks the payment has still not been received, we will recommend that you call in specialist collection agencies who will be responsible for contacting the customer (by post and telephone).

To conclude, while it is true that, in the context of how a marketplace operates, the risk of non-payment is borne by the seller, it nevertheless remains the responsibility of the marketplace operator to set the rules and more particularly the payment terms made available, the payment deadlines granted or the type of reminders when payments are in default.

 

Although this clarification is mainly for the domestic market, these good practices also apply internationally, adapted to normal practice in each country, something which Webhelp Payment Services does through its seven subsidiaries based in Europe and North America, making payments to more than 35,000 buyers in 35 countries.

 

* Based on the 2018 Annual report on compliance with payment terms

 

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Job platform match: attracting companies and job seekers using content management & moderation solutions

If the job-matching process is smooth, companies will trust your platform and so will job-seekers.

The trust and safety of users online is crucial in today’s digital world. As 2020 shifted society to online and seek for jobs all across the internet, user-generated content is fast becoming a powerful and flexible tool to enhance job-matching capabilities and attract users to these job ads platforms.

This paper looks at some of the pain points in the the job ads space, highlighting how Webhelp can offer a comprehensive and game changing solution to ensure a smooth and efficient experience.

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Peer Hackman joins as Managing Director of Telecommunications, Media and Technology Practice

Webhelp and Gobeyond Partners are pleased to announce the expansion of their Telecommunications, Media and Technology Practice, under the leadership of Peer Hackman.

Peer joins Webhelp as Managing Director for TMT. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the business with over 20 years’ experience in leadership, consulting and operational roles with CSPs, technology vendors, management consultancies and media start-ups.

He is supported by a global team of industry consultants, customer experience specialists, customer engagement operations experts, analysts, data scientists and engineers, who work with our clients to transform and create value from customer engagement and experience engineering. This practice brings together specialists who transform customer experience excellence into profitable growth and run your customer operations at greater efficiency and lower costs.

 

Commenting on the TMT expansion, David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK said:

“Telecommunications is a diverse and hugely important sector of the global economy, which has provided a crucial  role during the pandemic in keeping individual and businesses connected, media companies entertaining and informing us, and technology vendors providing the devices and infrastructure. However, the gap between these sectors in shareholder returns has widened. All businesses have realised that customer engagement, experience and trust is THE decisive enabler to produce sustainable growth and expansion in uncertain times. Peer and his practice are working with leading operators, media businesses and technology vendors to help them mature their digital transformations across strategy, customer engagement, operations, culture, technology and data, to build sustainable, resilient and highly profitable future-facing businesses.”

 

Peer Hackman, Managing Director for TMT, continues:

“Webhelp and Gobeyond Partners provide end-to-end capabilities – from assessing our clients’ digital and CX maturity, to helping them to shape their customer engagement strategy to drive business performance, to engineering profitable customer experiences and providing holistic customer engagement solutions. We are uniquely placed to deliver transformative programmes which help clients grow the value of their existing customers, open new market opportunities, drive down the cost base, increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction.

“I’m delighted to be joining the team at Webhelp and Gobeyond Partners and look forward to bringing customer engagement transformation solutions to the often complex challenges faced by their prestigious client base.”

 

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The death of passwords and the move to recognition technology

The concept of the computer password dates back to the earliest days of shared computer systems, with the first computer password developed in 1961 at MIT. That’s 60 years ago this year that we started our journey with digital authentication methods. The first case of password theft or misuse was documented just a year later, in 1962.

It’s almost unbelievable in this age of rapid technology advancement that we are still relying on what is essentially an aged and almost obsolete technology to protect ourselves and our digital assets from prying eyes.

Today, we are entering what is referred to as the “Third Wave” of the authentication revolution. The password was v1.0, Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) are v2.0, and we now find ourselves looking at v3.0 beginning to take shape.

With online security a greater concern than perhaps ever before for customers, let’s take a look at what organisations need to be aware of now, as we move into an innovative new future in digital security.

So what exactly is the problem with passwords?

Characters from a known character set are the basis of any password generation process (manual or automated). This is exactly the reason why there is no perfectly unique password. Passwords are created to be remembered, and that is their one fundamental weakness. It makes them predictable, guessable and open to abuse

Didn’t 2FA and MFA solve the issue?

Well, no not entirely. MFA (like all methods of authentication) is open to abuse and is highly dependent on how it has been implemented. The approach to “proving who you are” using multiple elements across the four key factors of authentication certainly makes it more difficult to fool systems, but not impossible (which, let’s face it, is the ultimate goal of any authentication technology).

Authentication factors look at four key categories:

  • Knowledge (something you know)
  • Possession (something you have)
  • Inherence (something you are)
  • Location

You may well be used to 2FA across your apps and devices, but did you know that some security services have 4FA in place? Logging on to check your email may take some time…

What exactly is recognition technology?

Authentication 3.0 is the world of “recognition technology”. Recognition technology includes a mixture of different data points across end user devices, data analytics, mobile usage, behavioural and physical biometrics, and factors of continuous authentication to build a more solid and resilient model compared to the methods used today.

We all know about facial and fingerprint recognition, you probably use these on your phone along with solutions like Windows Hello.

But here’s the thing – the way you type, the angle you hold your phone at, the way you move your cursor, the websites you visit, if you run your browser maximised on your desktop, the time of day you logon, the speed you read at, that pause before you send an important email – these are all examples of your unique identity footprint in the digital world. They all represent individual data points that uniquely identify you.

Combine this digital footprint with advancements in biometrics such as heart rate signatures, vein recognition, thermography, gait, hand geometry (and yes even body odour) it becomes possible to build a totally unique digital identity of you. Combine these technologies with AI, built to continuously monitor changes in your identity profile, and the world of passwordless authentication seems more like a reality.

So where next?

We do need to be realistic. For widespread adoption of these new authentication methods, what’s needed is a clear set of globally agreed standards, and a lot of legacy technology systems. Innovation will continue in this space, but is likely for now to offer the results of varied experimentation. Different approaches will have different solutions, built to different specifications, all chasing the one ultimate proof of identity that is impossible to fabricate.

One thing is clear, though – the age of the simple password as a sole method for authentication is rapidly approaching an end. We will continue to see greater adoption of a layered security approach before these methods are finally put out to pasture, but the clock is ticking.

At Webhelp, we’re always ready for the next step in technology evolution, while still maintaining our focus on the human element. As we incorporate new developments in security into our systems and processes, we continue to work hand in hand with our people, to design security solutions that work for them, and help to create the best possible colleague experience.

To find out more about Technology and AI, read the latest blog by James Allen, Chief Risk and Technology Officer on Bots, Bias and Bigotry.