Four (actually six) identity industry professionals ask, “So what?”

I didn’t create the video that I am about to share, but it parallels some thoughts that I—and others—have about the identity industry.

So who did create the video?

The title of the 30 minute discussion says it all: “Differentiation strategies in Identity: panel discussion.” Although when you listen to what the panel actually said, perhaps it should have been entitled “WHAT differentiation strategies in identity? Panel puzzlement.”

I won’t claim to provide an…um, accurate[1] summary of the video, but I will stay that the question “So what?” occurs several times in the course of the discussion. And for good reasons.

Before moving forward, these four did use a little bit of jargon in the course of their talk, and I want to provide links to two of the items that they mentioned.

  • The panelists referenced a series of tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These tests, under the umbrella title of the Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT), are discussed here.
  • The panelists also referenced another effort from NIST, NIST Special Publication 800-63 Revision 3, Digital Identity Guidelines. This publication, and its sub-parts, can be accessed here.

So after you watch the video above, consider that other people have also been asking the “so what?” question.

Let’s start with C. Maxine Most of Acuity Market Intelligence, who has expressed similar thoughts about the “me-too” lack of true differentiation that we sometimes see in the identity industry. And Most proposes to help you do something about it, via Acuity’s customized strategic services.

In the dynamic world of emerging technology, differentiation is not based on product or service alone. Being faster, better,  cheaper – or even all three –  is not sustainable.  Defining a business model that sets you apart can be the most effective and defensible means of creating a market, establishing a foothold, or destabilizing and dominating your competition.  

Hint: ranking in the top tier of one element of the FRVT tests will NOT destabilize or dominate your competition.

One other identity industry professional has asked the “So what?” question, and that person is…well, it’s me[2]. But I approach the question from a different perspective.

Kirkwood and his panel, and Most and her company, have approached the “So what?” question as a strategy question. While I’ve also worked on strategy issues[3], I’ve approached the “So what?” question from a sales enablement perspective. Once your company has settled on the strategy that will destabilize and dominate your competition, how do you communicate the value of your offering to your potential customers?

That’s what my DBA Bredemarket is talking about right now, as part of its effort to advertise its marketing and writing services to identity firms. I didn’t create a video to talk about it, and I didn’t create a research study to explain it. Instead, I’m using a series of blog posts to address the “So what?” question. The blog post series is entitled “Communicating benefits (not features) to identity customers.”

  • Part 1 was published yesterday and can be found here.
  • Part 2 was published today and can be found here.
  • Part 3 is coming.

So while the six of us approach the “So what?” question from different perspectives, we all agree that the question is important, and needs to be asked.

And here’s the footnote section of this blog post:

[1] Once you watch the video, you’ll see what I did there. Ever since the 1990s, one favorite differentiation tactic (not strategy) for biometric vendors is to claim that they offer the most ACCURATE system. Yes, that is a feature not a benefit. However, when one vendor offers a 1:N FNIR of 0.0035 where a threshold is set to limit the FPIR to 0.003 on a specific visa border picture dataset where N=1600000, and another vendor offers an FNIR of 0.0041, even if you DO convert this feature into a benefit using my suggested method, how earthshaking is the benefit? Is our border 0.0006 more secure?

[2] When I do release a video or a large study, perhaps it will be called “Examples of Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.”

[3] I worked for Peter Kirkwood for nearly three years at IDEMIA, worked with Mark DiFraia for part of that period, and was a customer of Maxine Most’s while at MorphoTrak. So I’ve certainly had some involvement in strategy.

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