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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Convergent Identity

Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 30, 2005
8:37 pm

Convergent: adjective “tending to move toward one point or to approach each other” —

Merriam-Webster Online

At one time in my life, I held six separate accounts with

– long distance, mobile phone, personal calling card, corporate calling card, ISP and credit card. AT&T had no idea that the six different Mark Dixon accounts really belonged to the same person.

At that time, I was in a business development position with

‘s telecommunications industry vertical organization. We were preaching the gospel of Convergent Services – where the different operational silos in large telecom companies would cooperate across business unit boundaries, ostensibly enabled by Oracle’s database and application software products. In the simplest convergent case, a customer would receive a single bill with charges from all accounts. In the ultimate case, the services with the different accounts would interact in a more cooperative way (e.g. long distance on mobile and home phones would use the same infrastructure; purchases made via the mobile phone would be charged to the AT&T credit card.)

The benefits to the customer were to have been ease of use, superior customer support and billing simplicity. The benefits to a telecom carrier were to have been the ability to cross sell and up sell across business boundaries, less costly billing, improved customer service and “stickiness” — the ability to reduce churn by providing better service to an integrated customer.

Well, it didn’t work for me. I didn’t stick around. With only one AT&T account left, I’m lingering evidence of a telecom company too entrenched with the old ways to really grasp the new concept of convergence. Could that be why AT&T is so healthy today?

At the heart of this issue is the need for convergent Identity. Before AT&T could converge services, they needed converge Identities of their customers. They needed to understand that the six Mark Dixons from Arizona were really the same guy. Only as their systems were able to manage that concept could they begin to implement convergent billing and convergent services.

A similar problem exists within enterprises. A single employee may have Identity information stored in each of many different information systems. To each individual system, the employee’s Identity is unique, but the concept of a single, convergent Identity for each employee is beyond the scope of each system.

An Identity Management System like the

Sun Identity Manager
product enables convergent Identities. With such a system, a single Identity for each person is maintained centrally, with appropriate credential and privilege information being sent to other systems on a need-to-know basis.

This manage-centrally, provision-remotely model enables convergent Identities with a minimum of impact on the individual information systems or business unit silos. And convergent Identities enable better service to customers or employees, lower operational costs and new business opportunities.

AT&T take heart – there’s still hope! Come talk to us.

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