Okta Arms Developers With Customer-Facing Device Identity T... - Jonathan Cartu Internet, Mobile & Application Software Corporation
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Okta Arms Developers With Customer-Facing Device Identity T…

Okta Arms Developers With Customer-Facing Device Identity T…


As we all know, life has changed. Many people outside of the younger millennial and Generation-Z social/age cohorts have had to adapt to new digital tools that might have otherwise passed them by. Prominent among the tools in the ‘new normal’ are online video collaboration tools (Zoom, obviously, plus others), online grocery shopping apps and mobile payment apps (many of which come from digital-only challenger banks) for those times when we might actually venture out into the world. 

There are implications that come with this change. Users will need security and identity management in their apps to be more upfront, accessible, intuitive and smart. Taking the UK’s restaurant and pub scene as an example, bars have started to segment customers into zones – those willing to use an app vs. those who insist on trying to pay with cash – and quite literally make the two groups sit apart. But that flexibility won’t always exist, so software application developers will need more user-facing controls to lock down our apps.

Passwordless authentication

Without being ageist or anti-early-adopter, we are all going to need apps with user identity controls that can verify user authentication in new ways. Passwords and PINs aren’t going away, but passwordless authentication through the use of biometrics including FaceID to authenticate end-user login is coming to the fore.  

As reported by McKinsey, “Many companies are accelerating their shifts toward digital-first models – at warp speed. One European variety-store chain, for example, established a fully functioning e-commerce business in just three months. But it’s not just about digitizing i.e. companies must also reimagine customer journeys to reduce friction, accelerate the shift to digital channels and provide for new safety requirements.” 

Building apps with higher level authentication functions doesn’t come about by the developer simply clicking an additional functionality option in their development environment of choice; instead, a dedicated identity platform layer is needed. Working at precisely this level is Okta with its Okta Devices Platform Service.

This cloud-based technology promises to bring together a set of capabilities in a single integration with the Okta Devices Software Development Kit (SDK) to deepen and extend device and user identity in customer experiences.

It might sound a little chintzy, but the company talks about the identity authentication element of any app being something that ‘adds to the User eXperience (UX)’, rather than being an element that detracts from us. Slightly chintzy or cheesy perhaps, or is it in fact a very real feeling – remember the 50-year old (and older) crowd that now need to order a beer from their phone? This is actually all about getting people used to the new normal.

Branded push notifications using biometrics

According to Okta, now, developers building mobile applications can send branded push notifications and use biometrics including FaceID to authenticate end-user login versus using solely a password or PIN, offering layers of protection and security while increasing customer engagement. The Okta Devices SDK also puts more power in the hands of end-users by registering customer devices within Okta Universal Directory, enabling self-service if a device is lost or stolen. 

“We live in a multi-device world where we work, shop and consume content across phones, laptops and tablets,” said Diya Jolly, chief product officer, Okta. “This dynamic landscape has placed an extra emphasis on today’s modern businesses to be relevant across every device. The Devices SDK takes the customizability and security of the Okta Identity Cloud and puts it in the hands of developers everywhere.”

The world has indeed become mobile-first: there will be an estimated 7 billion mobile users by 2021. To keep up, every organization is focused on building bespoke customer experiences. With a limited supply of developer resources, businesses are challenged to constantly ship new features while still accounting for security. Jolly and team insist that development teams need an identity layer that serves as the connective tissue between applications and devices to speed time to market, deliver products that are secure and drive engagement. 

Omnichannel multi-factor manifestations

“Through a single integration, developers can embed Okta Verify into mobile applications with the look and feel of their own brands. This way, they can easily build bespoke passwordless flows across devices, eliminating security and usability tradeoffs,” said Okta co-founder & CEO Todd McKinnon. “Making every developer successful with Okta’s customer identity solutions is our number one goal right now, and the new Devices SDK and API is just one of the ways we’re putting the customizability and security of the Okta Identity Cloud in their hands. Developers are creative and it’s going to be exciting to see what they do with the technology.”

Okta says that its Devices Platform Service will continue to enrich the power of the Devices SDK in the future through ‘unlimited integrations’ including completely passwordless authentication experiences to secure transactions on every major operating system.  

Will this mean that every user becomes massively more comfortable with online apps that require identity verification?

No, of course not, some people still struggle with the idea of using PayPal, let alone thinking about ordering – and, crucially, securely paying for – a beer from their smartphone.

Could Okta’s technology help at least accelerate the ability to ‘bind’ user identity and device identity to make our digital existence better? Well yes, but not every developer will consider themselves an authentication/security specialist, so there needs to be a wider democratization of this kind of toolset among the programming community, which is obviously what Okta is working to develop. Surely most of us would raise a glass to that – so cheers.



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Computer Network Development Cartu Jonathan

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