Friday, May 06, 2005

fyi He's had enough 'ease of use'...


Pointer to blogpost:

Kobielus kommentary:
Just picking off the various and sundry idea threads in this particular post, in which Cameron rips Ben Hyde a new one on various levels.

This notion of an “identity big bang” is one of those IT marketing Great White Hopes, a la “killer application” and “year of the [pick the technology you love to death but the great unwashed masses haven’t gotten hip on yet]” and “[name your pet bleeding-edge on-the-cusp technology] market tipping point.” I’d really love it if Cameron and others didn’t pin their/our hopes for IdM market growth on some vague grandiose utopian pipedream. I’m much more comfortable relating to discussions of specific trends, developments, and events that might drive federated IdM to greater adoption.

Cameron’s hope for an “identity big bang” (or identity killer apps or year of the identity or what have you) seems to be predicated on the notion that “ease of use” can be radically improved, re “more secure and more intuitive ways to use identities.” Is he talking about the need for more pervasive SSO, as enabled by ever more extensive IdM federated circles of trust? Is he talking about more transparent multifactor authentication schemes (as compared to, say, using a USB token that stores certs, passwords, biometric patterns etc and have to enter/present all of that to kick off an SSO session)? Is he talking about facilitating more expedited registration and provisioning of user identities/accounts and end-entity medium-assurance certs throughout an IdM environment? Is he talking about engineering more user-friendly procedures under which people specify what personal attributes they disclose to which relying parties under which circumstances? There are many dimensions of identity “ease of use” that should be spelled out in greater detail. However, I doubt that any of these “ease of use” factors, if radically and ubiquitously improved, would produce some “identity big bang” that catapults IdM vendors to insane profitability overnight. Rest assured: the IdM train’s already left the station, and it’s a fast train, but it’s not a bullet train.

As regards product managers being “legitimate agents for customers” and “absolute advocates of their products,” both statements are true. The best product managers serve as product users’ interface to product developers, and also as product developers interface to users. The product manager is, of course, principally a market-positioning agent, helping customers to position the product’s value proposition within the customer’s business operations/roadmap, but at the same time helping the product manager’s employer to position the product as part of a broader suite, or a broader business plan, or a broader set of markets/customers/etc. A product manager is a go-between helping the customer and the vendor to continually re-assess their rolling relationship to each other.

Product managers are proxy servers, both forward and reverse. It’s a dizzying Janus role, playing both ends of the value chain and holding the chain together. You have to have a certain tensile strength to your personality and your mind to do it well. You try it sometime.

Oh….analysts are market-positioning agents of a higher order (imho): customers’ proxy to product managers, and product managers’ proxy to customers. Sifting the messages flowing both ways between these agents in the value chain, helping them both understand how strong the chain truly is, when considered across an entire industry, or an abstract set of approaches—such as IdM—that an industry has implemented in their solutions.

You try it sometime. It’s not for everybody. Or, rather, not everybody is equally well-suited, temperamentally or intellectually, to industry analysis. Check their blogs, if they have them, to size up whether they have the chops. Do they present the larger context and nail down to details with equal agility? Do they read the daily feed and digest it well? Do they present whole well-wrought thought-chains, or just fragmented and ill-joined retorts to what others have expressed more succinctly?

Do they further fuzz the already fuzzy field of kollective kommentary on whatever topic they touch? Or do they immerse themselves in that kommentary kosmos and add at least one brilliant little new point of light to the topic at hand?

Ask yourself.