Digital ID World kicks off with the cry: Free Identity!

You know you are at a good conference any time your keynote address throws up a picture of Neo (from The Matrix) on the screen.

That’s exactly what Doc Searls did during a typically humorous and thought-provoking keynote roughly titled “The Decentralization of Identity” (actually re-titled in real time based on Phil Becker’s opening keynote) . He used Neo as representative of the consumer community in the marketplace; the ones whose identity are not in their control and who don’t have “choice” when it comes to the management and security of their identity data.

If there was one theme to the opening keynote addresses (by Phil Becker, Doc Searls and Kim Cameron), it was that the nature of identity needs to change, freeing it from the silos and walled gardens it is currently imprisoned in. They spoke of the need to redesign our approach to how identity data is used and managed. Doc Searls spoke of the need to get away from the notion of owning someone’s (your customers) identity, and moving from CRM systems to something he called VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) systems. As someone in the identity community, I completely understand the sentiment behind that; as a cog in the Oracle juggernaut, I have to be cautious about any cries of “Death to CRM” 🙂

Kim Cameron took his discussion of claims-based identity management (authentication and authorization) to the next level. In a headline capturing display, he introduced a term called “Legonics” (fusion of Lego and Electronics) as a new way of building applications by putting together pieces from componentized modules. Sounded an awful lot like a combination of SOA and Identity as a Service to me. But the demonstration on stage of a Lego robot that was controlled by claims illustrated his point quite well.

I am glad that the talk I will be giving tomorrow at DIDW fits in nicely with this emerging conference theme of freeing identity from the application silos it lives in. Building on the session I did at the Jericho Forum, my session on “Externalizing Identity” will present a roadmap to how applications will get re-architected to allows decentralization of identity in the manner that Phil and Doc are referring to. I say roadmap because I believe in transition, not quantum leaps. Enterprises want an approach that leverages the hefty investments they have already made in IdM infrastructure. And the identity equation has too many colliding imperatives for a simple solution (at least today). The real solution will come from a partnership between the IdM vendors, the application vendors and the consumer enterprises, as they all accept that identity is an asset and not a commodity.

If you are Digital ID World, look me up. Or come by my session tomorrow evening at 4pm. It’s the last session of the day, so I promise not to make it too heavy. But it should be interesting.

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