The Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) registry provides unique, persistent, non-proprietary identifiers for researchers, creators, and contributors of all types. Your ORCID iD moves with you throughout your career, improving attribution and visibility of your grants, research, scholarship, and creative and entrepreneurial activities. The use of ORCID iDs is fast becoming standard in academia, and many publishers and funders now require them. Think of it like a DOI for a person.
Name ambiguity. Researcher names are neither unique nor static: whatever your name is, there is someone else out there with the same one, and your name may appear in many different ways throughout your career. ORCID identifiers are a tool for disambiguating researchers and creators to ensure that they get credit for their work.
From the ORCID mission page:
ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship, and innovation activities. We provide open tools that enable transparent and trustworthy connections between researchers, their contributions, and affiliations. We provide this service to help people find information and to simplify reporting and analysis.
ORCID identifiers are non-proprietary, and there is no fee to maintain yours (member organizations pay dues in order to support the registry); they are not tied to your place of work or host institution, and you control what information gets linked to or displays on your ORCID profile. The registry isn't a "social network," despite the "collect and connect" model: your ORCID profile simply displays the activities, education, employment, and funding you add or approve from Trusted Organizations (see "Controlling Privacy and Visibility" for more information on how this works).
Having an ORCID iD helps you:
ORCID iDs are quickly being adopted in academic and research outlets: many funders and publishers already require an ORCID iD on manuscript submissions or grant proposals, with more planning to move from accepting to requiring ORCID iDs in the near future.