Identity, contact management and federated social networks

October 24, 2011 | Leave a comment

Last week, Doc Searls reflected that everything being worked on at the Internet Identity Workshop is meaningful to CRM:

It just occurred to me that everything being worked on at IIW is meaningful to CRM. I had been thinking that only the VRM stuff was meaningful, but I realize now that all the IIW stuff is, because — from a CRM perspective — it’s all about customer empowerment. And empowered customers are entities that CRM will welcome, sooner or later.

I think that’s true, but I also think we can go further than that. A huge part of identity on the web is controlling who can see what: think about the Google+ Project’s approach, where your identity consists of a series of data objects (posts, photos, status updates, etc), each having its own set of access controls. Controlling access to items requires that you have people to restrict access with. Therefore, contact and relationship management is integral to digital identity.

In turn, federated social networks are integral to both. For identity to be useful online, you need to be able to use it virtually anywhere. If identity is a series of items restricted to people based on your relationships with them, those relationships need to persist everywhere you use your identity. Hence, your relationships need to federate across identity-aware applications – and federated social software is the future of identity online.