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Sears OpenID UX Summit Retrospective

By Janrain Team | Posted on February 27, 2010

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Last Thursday over 60 OpenID advocates met at Sears World Headquarters in Chicago for a full day of discussions on progress to date and future plans for OpenID deployment and utilization. There is a summary of the event on the OpenID Foundation wiki. See Twitter coverage of the event with the hash tag #openidux

Companies represented included Sears, NPR, PBS, AARP, MTV, Fox News, Universal Music Group, Kodak, Tribune Interactive, White Pages, OpenTable, Scout24/Deutsche Telecom, GameStop, Bank of America, Yahoo, Google, AOL, Microsoft, PayPal, Facebook, JanRain, Exact Target, Ping Identity, and others.

The session kicked off with presentations by Google (Joseph Smarr), Yahoo (Allen Tom), Microsoft (Angus Logan), Facebook (David Recordon), PayPal (Andrew Nash), and AOL (George Fletcher). Copies of many of the presentations are available on the OpenID Foundation wiki. Some key highlights from these sessions:

  • Google is working on providing more API access to its OpenID Services, including Buzz, Portable Contacts, Activity Streams, OAuth WRAP, etc. Their OpenID service will also be certified by the newly formed Open Identity Exchange (OIX) for use on federal government websites.
  • Yahoo has deployed an OpenID/OAuth hybrid deployment model for access control to Yahoo data and APIs including Contacts (address book), Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo Updates (Activity Streams). Allen went through a case study of how Yahoo OpenID and OAuth services are being used on Huffington Post and the many benefits to users of this experience. Allen described how Yahoo Updates allows posting back to 300M Yahoo homepage, 300M Yahoo Mail, 90M Yahoo Messenger, and 40M MyYahoo accounts.
  • Microsoft reported that they have over 500 million active users and they continue to make progress in rolling out their OpenID service after the recently completed prototype research project. Angus described the extensive reach that Microsoft has across Windows LiveID, Bing, Xbox, HotMail, Messenger, MSN, and Office. He also discussed MS’ active involvement in OAuth/WRAP, Portable Contacts, and Activity Stream initiatives.
  • PayPal described their work with the federal government in launching an OpenID service for federal websites. They are currently working with a limited number of “white listed” commercial websites for deployment of their OpenID services. Organizations wishing to discuss acceptance of PayPal OpenID on their websites are encouraged to contact Andrew Nash.
  • Facebook discussed the widespread adoption of Facebook Connect and how they have been accepting OpenID for logins for the past year. They continued to share user experience learnings from building Connect and stressed the importance of developer simplicity around OpenID this year. David demonstrated a killer multimedia demo where a video feed dynamically consumed and displayed data from Facebook profiles via Connect.
  • AOL reported that they will be upgrading their OpenID service to V2.0 within the next few weeks. George discussed that they are pursuing a number of the enhancements that Google and Yahoo have launched over the last few months and that AOL is accepting OpenID for login on a number of AOL properties.
  • MySpace was unable to attend due to some last minute scheduling conflicts. Monica Keller, formerly an OpenID Advocate at MySpace has recently transitioned to Facebook and is now working with David Recordon on open standards initiatives.

Next up were Daniel Jacobson from NPR, Rob Harles from Sears, and Jonathan Coffman from PBS representing the “voice of the customer.”

Daniel Jacobson, Director of Application Development at NPR, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the OpenID Foundation and as the Chairman of the Adoption Committee. He reported on goals and priorities of the Adoption Committee for the upcoming year. The top four priorities include:

  • Increased market research on the needs of RPs, OPs, and end users
  • Increased “productization” of the technology stack
  • Enhancement of the open source libraries
  • Marketing, education, and promotion

Daniel also described the research that NPR has been doing with OpenID and that their “end game” is shared identities across all public media. They are currently collaborating with PBS and the OpenID Foundation to determine their next steps.

Rob Harles, VP Social Media and Community at Sears Holdings Company, presented a summary of Sears recent deployment on the MySears and MyKmart communities as well as their plans to roll out across all the Sears websites. Rob was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the OpenID Foundation and serves as the Chairman of the Online Retailer Committee.

Rob reported that Sears has one of the fastest growing retail communities, with 400% growth in 2009. They deployed JanRain‘s RPX integrated into the Viewpoints community platform to accept third party registration and login from Yahoo, Google, Facebook, MySpace, AOL, Twitter, Windows LiveID, and general OpenID accounts.

Additionally they surveyed their members to find out what drives interest in 3rd party login. The top two motivators were login convenience and the desire to not have to set up yet another username & password for a new account. When asked what would further improve user experience, the top two requests were the ability to share content and photos with friends.

Rob described their objectives as a combination of serving their existing customers better while also reaching out to a broader demographic than their traditional 35 to 53 year old female segment. He said that accepting registrations from a wide variety of identity providers definitely helped to expand their demographic reach.

Jonathan Coffman, Social Media Strategist and Product Manager at PBS, was also recently elected to the Board of Directors of the OpenID Foundation and serves on the Adoption Committee. PBS has launched an OpenID service for use across PBS websites. Next steps for PBS include:

  • Enhanced user profiles, including allowing RPs to store extended profile data at the OP
  • Begin building out the consumer side of system, allowing users to connect with and use their 3rd party accounts across ecosystem
  • PBS has teamed up with the OIDF to investigate what a Public Media Trust Framework, modeled after the US federal government trust framework, might entail

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