Introducing the Evernym Accelerator

Identity is evolving–time for POCs to do the same

In a previous post, I talked about the process of taking new technology out of the labs and into production, crossing the chasm so to speak. I addressed two of the most common questions Evernym is asked: When and How should I investigate self-sovereign identity (SSI)? With the announcement of the Job-Creds proof-of-concept (POC), we demonstrated that forward-looking organizations like ATB Financial, IBM, the Sovrin Foundation and Workday are hard at work proving out SSI, and carving a path to production.

These teams are not alone; we’ve run dozens of ‘classic’ POCs, mostly for smart innovation teams within large organizations. We’re grateful for these projects, which have provided insight and perspective about how to evolve the market. We’ve learned how innovation teams think about SSI, how they prove to their wider organizations that the technology works, and how to develop our software and messaging in such a way that it allows them to do just that.

The Job-Creds POC was important in raising the bar for how SSI is perceived. For the first time, multiple parties came together armed with the same software, the same training, and an agreement to explore technology together in search of a solution to a specific use case. Significantly, it confirmed our hunch that if the right environment was created, something magical could happen — the SSI story could start to take on a life of its own. Once the participating organizations were able to issue and verify digital credentials, and when our protagonist ‘Alice’ was able to hold her own digital credentials, extensions and improvements to the original user stories became straightforward. For example, what if, after Alice had opened a new bank account using her digital driving license and digital proof of employment, she could receive a credential containing her bank account details and seamlessly use it to update her employer’s payroll system? Although this wasn’t the original use case, it was simple to add, and this detail improved the customer experience while solving a real business problem.

Job-Creds – An Animated Overview

During the project, it became clear that the value of the whole was not limited by the sum of the initial parts. In fact, an ecosystem had been created that could easily be improved and expanded; adding more participants would increase the potential to extend Alice’s digital existence.

It was further proof that we are on the right track with the Accelerator program.

How to boil an ocean, aka building a “Field of Dreams”

As blockchain markets yearn for evidence to justify the hype, one result of our mostly private POCs has been testing the Sovrin Network, and demonstrating objectively and within minutes that the technology really works. Continuing to focus on individual organizations and one-off POCs would be to risk going beyond a point of diminishing returns.

The Accelerator program is the distillation of the experiences and learnings we’ve gained over the years, coupled with the realization that we’re uniquely placed to offer such a program. Participants are provided with the same SSI-enabling software, the same access to expertise and training, and most importantly—access to a curated community of like-minded organizations with whom they can collaborate. Many of the barriers associated with learning individually, or running multi-party projects, are torn down; this affords participants the time to focus on which business problems they want to solve, and how they can do just that.

In soft launch, we’re supporting around 15 market-leading organizations, including provincial governments, an airline group, several banks, one of the world’s largest humanitarian institutions, a telco, a background screening company, a huge Swiss pharmaceutical company, and several brilliant startups. As the list grows, so does the value of the playing field these teams are able to play in, and when Alice visits this new virtual ecosystem, her digital journey will be very rich indeed. If the early evidence is anything to go by, we’re expecting a step change in the volume of public, transformative use cases that will be hitting the market soon.

“The Accelerator program has given us some very clear first steps to explore self-sovereign identity, and to connect with other organizations to build a trial ecosystem. By showing how it really works, and with experts on hand, we are able to learn quickly and develop real solutions that directly benefit our customers, partners and the wider business.”

– David Harney, CEO, Irish Life

I’ve explained to people previously that we see the Accelerator program as a hybrid of Khan Academy, a hackathon, and an MBA program; in other words, guided tuition, the tools and support to build groundbreaking technology solutions, and a network of peers to work with. The reality of course, is that we hope to continually exceed the expectations of our customers and that the program will evolve and grow to be what the members want it to be — and what the market needs it to be.

The promise of truly self-sovereign identity seems so much closer than it did even six months ago, and we’re so excited to work with more people and more teams, and to see where we can take this, together.

The Enterprise POC is dead. Long live ecosystems, long live the Accelerator program!