by Mike Vesey, CEO, IdRamp, and Karl Kneis, COO, IdRamp
Understanding the decentralized identity (DCI) market can be challenging. Inspiring C-level decision makers and IT executives to adopt decentralized identity technology is even more difficult. Current research publications provide limited insight with inconsistent ideas and terminology. Anyone interested in DCI adoption can quickly get lost in an ocean of information that raises more questions than answers. What is the solution? Decentralized ID, Self-sovereign ID, Blockchain ID, Web 3.0 ID, Personal ID, Verifiable Credentials, DID or are they all the same thing? Is the technology production-ready or a next-generation innovation to be considered in the future?
After spending a great deal of time working with enterprise C-level teams on complex digital identity problems, one thing seems clear. When it comes to decentralized identity solutions, many business sponsors do not yet understand how DCI can provide practical answers to immediate frontline business problems. This climate creates the impression that decentralized identity is interesting but not ready for prime time adoption.
Business leaders want to know
Business leaders want to know:
- How can I use decentralization to make identity management easy to deploy and operate?
- Is it possible to add new features and business requirements without investing in long, expensive projects?
- How do I adapt this new technology without re-platforming every few years?
- Is it possible to enable decentralized identity with the systems I have to grow it at a speed and cost I can afford?
Prominent decentralized identity initiatives are often presented as pilots or innovation projects. Popular decentralized identity community discussions prioritize solving large social problems over business solutions that drive mass adoption. Understandable for a new bleeding edge technology, but the good news is DCI technology is ready for mainstream adoption now. With careful listening, collaboration and education, we can dispel misunderstanding and help business sponsors understand that decentralized identity is the best possible solution for problems they have today.
Most C-level executives do not understand the complexities of SAML or OIDC, but they do understand that solutions using these protocols help solve their business problems. We need decentralized identity to reach that same level of understanding in terms of reliability, comfort, and adoption.
Decentralized Identity needs to become ID
Shifting the conversation to the perspective of people who actually buy technology is an effective way to speed up adoption. Business leaders need proof of value, battle testing, and technical maturity. Decentralization will prevail based on measurable business results. DCI is not in battle with centralized systems; it is simply a better business solution for modern problems.
Focusing on familiar business performance indicators goes a long way in moving DCI out of the innovation lab and into mainstream adoption. Does decentralized identity help me save or make money? Is it more expensive than what I have today? When a business spends millions per year on centralized SSO and learns how decentralized identity based authentication can solve the same problem with stronger protection at less cost. That business will find value and interest in DCI adoption.
Ultimately, decentralized identity needs to become digital ID in the minds of business leaders. Trust architecture needs to be easy to understand and use. Businesses do not have time to navigate the ideology and technical complexities. They need education that speaks directly to their business problems today. Trust Over IP (TOIP) models, guides,and specifications are powerful business tools to help drive learning, transformation and adoption. You can use the growing list of free information published on the TOIP Deliverables page to help educate and transform your organization through DCI.
Perception is reality
A few common misunderstandings that come up in our business adoption conversations include:
- Decentralized identity is not just a solution for social issues, it is pain relief for front line business problems. Decentralized identity will provide superior results if you need Zero Trust, Password elimination or fraud prevention.
- Decentralized identity does not equal loss of control. It is a more effective way to manage and protect digital business.
- Decentralized identity adoption does not require re-platforming and heavy investment in line with past ID platforms. We can quickly deploy it with incremental adoption and easily combine it with all other ID services.
- Decentralized identity governance complements existing IT operation models and standards. It does not require a total change to current procedures.
- Decentralized identity service management does not require significant HR changes, custom development skills, or advanced technology resources. Existing IT teams can easily deploy and operate DCI systems with the people they have today.
That all sounds simple enough to explain, but how do you make it happen? Business sponsors need evidence to justify the investment. They need to see it in action. Our next post will focus on how we help overcome decentralized identity adoption through decentralized orchestration. This simple but powerful strategy provides an easy path for adoption and innovation.