Technalysis Research
Previous Guest Columns

January 30, 2014
Commentary: The tablet market is slowing -- long live the smartphone

January 10, 2014
Commentary: Hardware companies try to reinvent themselves

TECHnalysis Research Guest Column

February 22, 2014
Commentary: The battle for the first log-in of the day

Making order of multiple personal digital devices will be a key tech battle this year.

FOSTER CITY, Calif. — One of the biggest battles in technology has yet to lay out the grounds on which it will be fought, but I believe this year will be the time in which the theater of war and its participants become clear.

I'm referring to the fight for your first log-in of the day and the keys to the trove of your personal data with which it will come.

As the number of different digital devices each person accumulates and the number of online services to which people subscribe or participate continues to grow, there comes an inevitable need to try and make order out of the chaos.

Already, people have a hard time synchronizing their files, entertainment, communications and other data across smartphones, tablets and PCs. When the wearables wave starts to hit with full force, that problem will get exponentially worse. Similarly, not only trying to remember the tens, if not hundreds, of accounts and log-ins that people have for email, social media, entertainment, information, work, shopping and banking -- but making them more secure is an ongoing frustration.

The answer to these challenges is a concept I call a portable digital identity. In essence, it's all your digital "stuff" -- not just files and data, but account information and device collection -- put together into an organized construct that you can access across whatever set of devices, running whatever combination of platforms, apps and services you happen to use.

And importantly, for at least some of it, whether you're connected to the Internet or not. I'm convinced that, within a few years, a portable digital identity of some kind will be an essential part of how we interact -- indeed, our first log-in of the day -- with our devices, our services, our doctors, our employers, our government and our friends and family.

Arguably, many large and small tech companies have seen this challenge looming on the near-term horizon and have started to put together solutions that begin to address the issue, but they don't go anywhere near far enough to conquer the entire problem.

From Apple's iCloud, Google's GDrive and Microsoft's OneDrive cloud-based services to Box, Dropbox and SugarSync's digital lockers to the shared authentication credentials of Facebook, a number of very big names in tech have started to make moves in this direction. None, however, have articulated a clear vision or strategy about where these services are heading and the type of capabilities they could provide.

Beyond the pure functionality, there is also a much larger issue of trust. According to an interesting study released by Edelman, the tech industry engenders a surprisingly high level of trust among the general population.

Within tech, it's relatively easy to pick names you would or would not entrust to safeguard your digital self. Of course, there's enormous security implications as well. Clearly, a collection of portable digital identities would be a highly-prized target for the digitally nefarious crowd.

Despite these challenges, it seems the need for such a concept is clear and as the battle lines are drawn, the one true victor should be the users of technology -- all of us.

Here's a link to the original column:

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