Gradual Epiphany

Convenience and Necessity

Herewith, a bit of random thoughts on the consumer identity space — something I’m still trying to understand.

There are two drivers for consumer adoption of technology: convenience and necessity. Convenience is the positive driver where the user will benefit socially, fiscally, or otherwise, by using adopting the new technology. Conversely, necessity is a negative driver as the user will be negatively impacted (socially, fiscally) by not adopting the technology. Regardless of the driver, you need at least one of them before the general consumer population is willing to make the necessary paradigm shifts and adopt a new technology. People typically require impetus for change.

In the identity space, I don’t think we’ve established an impetus that will drive people to manage their “digital identity”. The convenience of web-based SSO is not yet significant enough that a user will demand it. The necessity of digital identity is also marginal at this point as the social and fiscal downsides aren’t yet fully understood by the general populace. As a Eric has said to me on several occasions: “Perception is reality.” While I don’t agree with this sentiment on all levels, I think it’s true in this case.

So, what watershed event will make it convenient or necessary for people to start thinking about their digital identity? I suppose it’s a 50/50 chance of either one forcing the issue, but I would put my money on necessity. Digital identity is a relatively abstract concept that people outside our space have a hard time wrapping their heads around. However, people can quickly grasp difficult concepts when there is a deep necessity for it.