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Building the Internet’s Trust Layer with a Customer-focused approach - Giriraj Daga

April 14, 2022
solutionarchitect
customerfocus
trustecosystem
Affinidi

Have you ever found yourself getting excited about something because the person you were speaking with was really inspiring and passionate about that topic? Our chat with Giriraj Daga, the Director of Solutions Architecture at Affinidi India was exactly that.

As he gave us a glimpse into what goes on behind building ecosystems with trusted information sharing and his work, we found it hard not to be intrigued. Read on to find out why.

Should we focus on Digital Identity technologies? If yes, why?

Empowerment. What excites me the most about digital identity technologies is the possibility of simplifying access to services while gaining more control over our data. Currently, both these aspects are at odds with each other because there’s a missing trust layer. Many people don’t trust service providers to keep their data safe, but at the same time, they have very little choice if you ask me. Digital Identity technologies can bridge this gap. It has potential to give the user complete control over their data and enable access to online services in a trusted, privacy preserving manner.

 To me, this is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to build the missing trust layer of information sharing over the Internet, that can help more people to leverage digital services safely and securely.

 “At Affinidi, we get to build our future, create a lasting impact, and there’s no better way to do that than to roll up our sleeves and #BUIDL. That is why I’m here.”

 

What is it like as a Solutions Architect?

I get to wear multiple hats and think long term about different aspects - business, technology, legal, product development, community adoption, developer ecosystem and more!

A Solutions Architect is more than just a tech role. It is an intersection of both technical and business worlds where being a realist and a good listener of customer concerns and pains are essential traits. Solutions Architects enable new business models creating value for all stakeholders leveraging the fit for purpose technology. They area thinker and a technologist!

The most important aspect of my role is customer focus. We are always thinking of adding value to customer experiences, designing new products and business models keeping customer’s best interest in mind. We like to build fast, get things in the hands of customers, seek feedback, and repeat the steps. We try to be a strong customer advocate in the internal discussions. All businesses need customers and if you get their best interests right, then everything else follows. I don’t miss any opportunity to interact with customers directly to learn, unlearn and relearn. It also matches my personality as I’m a people person who loves interacting with people and speaking across forums. I strive to be the person that my customers prefer to go to when they want something – be their trusted partner!

What’s one thing that everyone should know about data ownership and identity?

With great power comes great responsibility. Handle with care!

In a pure decentralized data ownership and identity model the ownership of governance shifts to the individual. Not all of us may be comfortable managing the complete lifecycle of all personal data with full control. For example, how do we recover the data if we lose it? How do we delegate our tasks to others? Can we effectively manage our own servers and devices which host our personal data? What do we care more about having control & transparency of usage or ownership of the data? Do we all selectively accept cookies on website or accept all?

For example, when I open my favourite news app, I enjoy all the personalized recommendations for me based on my past reading behaviour. However, do I worry about these platforms knowing more about me than I want them to - yes! Have I stopped using these platforms knowing that they store data about me - no (not yet), because of the utility provided by the services. Will I switch to an alternate solution if as a user I can get personalized recommendations in a privacy preserving manner – resounding yes!

Hence, data ownership and digital identity applications may not be a universal yes/no choice but may be a balancing act with a wide spectrum of use case specific choices. I believe this is where we must strike a balance and improvise as we go through every step towards more privacy & control without sacrificing data utility.

 

On this note, how do you envisage information sharing a few years from now?

I strongly believe data ownership and selective information sharing is the future. It opens access to more digital services in a safe and secure manner by enabling trust in machine readable data through the power of cryptography.

More importantly, it removes barriers and makes the world a level-playing field for everyone, making it a more equitable place to live and work. It can bridge the haves and have-nots, keep us more connected with things, and enable automation across platforms. It can allow the change from marketplaces to more open market networks where the buyers and sellers would not have to be onboarded on the same platform. In all, it can lead to a more collaborative world.

I am a strong believer in technology and its power to transform our lives. To borrow the title from Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler’s book “The future is faster than you think”.

If you weren’t in your current role (or anything similar), what would you most likely be doing?

Event management! I love public speaking and have spoken a few times at industry events like AWS re-Invent conference when I was working with Amazon Web Services. I have also managed a website for a non-profit organisation and organised events for them. I had fun hosting an Indian musical night at the Fox theatre, Foxwoods Casino, Connecticut, USA as Emcee. So, yes, I would most probably be doing more of that.

Name a person you feel inspired by and Why?

Mark Cuban, for his sharp business and technical acumen along with assertive communication skills - a power trio that I aspire to build! He explains the why behind the what and if you see, there is a practical and methodical approach to his actions.

If someone were to spot you outside of work, what would you most probably be caught doing?

Driving or binge reading on the phone.

 

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

That I can play arcade games for hours, non-stop! Asphalt9 is my current favourite pastime.

 

If I had a superpower, it would be…

Persuasion.

Written by
Team Affinidi

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