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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Identity Management – Customers vs. Employees

Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 3, 2005
5:03 am

“Don’t worry about stockholders or employees. If you take care of your customers, everything else will fall into place”

Lee Iacocca

Yesterday, I was speaking with an Identity Management customer who
shared an interesting perspective on this subject. “We have tens of thousands
of employees,” he said, “but tens of millions of
customers. Customers take precedence over employees. But sooner or
later, if we don’t solve employee issues, it begins to affect our

We were discussing how to set budget priorities for Identity
Management projects. His preference, in harmony with Iacocca’s
statement, was to solve customer-focused Identity Management issues
first. After all, customers pay the money to sustain our business –
customers butter our bread.

This is consistent with Sara Gates’ observations as I reported in
a recent

blog entry
. By focusing on Identity Management for customer
facing applications, we can improve customer service, increase market
leverage through better partner relationships and expand into new
markets. By focusing on value delivered to customers, Identity
Management becomes a revenue enabler, a contributor to enterprise

Solving Identity Management issues for employees should not be
ignored. But business justification comes from cost reduction,
process improvement and regulatory compliance, not from revenue

Two other documents I read this week corroborated this point.
These two high-level requirements statements came from another
customer embarking on an Identity Management project. The first
document outlined the corporate IT group’s priority – password
management for employees. The second document, prepared by a
customer-focused business unit said, in effect, “We need
federated single-sign-on for our portal-based applications, so we can
work with more partners and serve more customers.” One
initiative is being driven by cost reduction and compliance, the second by
revenue growth.

The moral of this little story? Customers should always come
first. They deliver the money. But don’t forget us employees. We
have Identities, too.


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