User-Centricity is NOT about User Self-Service

My previous post on User-Centricity in the Enterprise generated some interesting responses in the blogosphere (see here). One thing that surprised me was the discourse equating (or focusing) user-centricity with user self-service. The message seemed to be that user-centricity is absolutely needed in the enterprise because we need to provide users in the enterprise self-service management capabilities that promote simplicity and convenience.

No one can argue against the importance of deploying good self-service management capabilities in the enterprise. In fact, we (Oracle) have very strong user self-service capabilities in our current IAM suite of products, and are putting a lot of focus on making these capabilities even better in our roadmap. But IMHO, user-centricity and user self-service are two different things.

User self-service is a common sense feature in an enterprise’s architecture, not a methodology about data flow and usage. User-centricity is all about what happens after a user manages their identity information using self-service capabilities (though it isn’t and shouldn’t be restricted to only self-managed identity data). It is about the control we give them over the identity data as it is being used in the enterprise. Managing my user-centric controls should be part of the user self-service features available to me.

Johannes Ernst wrote a very articulate response (as usual) to my post that makes a very good argument for user-centric controls in the enterprise. But he also brings up one of the main issues that I believe holds back the discussion on enterprise user-centricity – the unclear boundary on what is identity information. I’ll touch upon that in my next post.