Mark Dixon blogs about two additional success factors he believes are required for user-centric identity to be successful.

Okay, these may be necessary, but are they sufficient? I propose two other factors that must be in place:

  1. Extremely large scale. Perhaps Dick intended this in the “Internet Scale” statement, but he didn’t explicitly say so. This is essential for mainstream adoption. If user-centric Identity is going to really work, it must be adopted by the big dogs - eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Google … It must become pervasive.
  2. Successful business model. For the big dogs to adopt this, the financial incentives must be just right for both Identity providers and relying partners. What will compel a Bank of America or American Express or Experian to become an Identity provider? Who pays the bill for the large scale infrastructure and operational overhead they will need to put in place? Why should the vendors like eBay, Amazon or Yahoo adopt this stuff, when they have already invested in Identity/Security infrastructures themselves?

I’m convinced that user-centric Identity is as much a business issue as a technology issue. If the compelling business demand is in place, the technology folks will make it work. If not, it will have been an interesting science fair project.

The first point I think is indeed covered by the term “internet scale”, but he raises the point that the “big dogs” need to be on board with it for it all to work. I wonder when it was that the internet became beholden to a few companies who decide what is in and what is out. I don’t recall Netscape getting the OK from the gopher mob to release the first commercial browser, or Sun begging the banks to be allowed to release Java, and I don’t see Microsoft asking anyone if it is OK please for them to be releasing InfoCard. In fact the history of the internet has been largely about user demand and user acceptance, collectively the users are the big dogs, and the ebays, amazons, and yahoos found their success through providing the best scoobie snacks. In any market that has not been distorted through monopoly that is the case. The successful businesses provide people with what they want, and if they don’t, if they refuse, then just like the internet the market routes around the damage. Eventually.

So “What will compel a Bank of America or American Express or Experian to become an Identity provider?”

We will, or we’ll be using someone else for the services we require. The tail isn’t wagging the dog just yet.