Bring Your Own Apps: For Consumers, and Businesses Too

Identity and access management is an important issue for businesses, and one that is becoming even more critical as they move applications to the cloud, support access from a myriad of mobile devices and are engaging more deeply online with their customers and business partners.

But what can businesses learn about identity from consumers?

People are living online more and more in their work lives, sure, but also in their personal lives. How is online personal identity managed, who manages it and why should consumers care? In a great piece over on AllThingsD, Liz Gannes explores Google’s attempt to become the “smart glue” between apps, and what a unified identity online could look like in our (non-working) lives.

Ganness recognizes Google’s attempt to interlock its products as a way to compete in a world where apps — not search — are increasingly important. She writes:

I don’t want to be forced to use Google’s product, and I don’t want my favorite apps to have to live as subjects on a Google-owned platform (or, for that matter, a Facebook-owned platform). What I’d like is for these services to work together and share data respectfully.

Google is not a neutral identity provider. As Gannes points out, consumers don’t want to be corralled into using only Google’s suite of apps (what about Yelp? Twitter? Facebook?) or have apps live on a single platform. They want choice.

Like consumers, businesses also don’t want to be corralled into using a suite of apps from just one vendor. As businesses move to the cloud, vendors like Google, Microsoft and even VMWare are all trying to leverage identity to tie companies more closely into their respective apps or platform technologies.

What businesses need is a neutral identity provider, one that will embrace and integrate with all application vendors. Businesses want an identity provider that enables choice and a “Bring Your Own App” strategy, not one that forces them into a “Buy More of My Apps” strategy.