Magazine article American Banker

Consultants Defend Authentication -- and Small Firms Behind It

Magazine article American Banker

Consultants Defend Authentication -- and Small Firms Behind It

Article excerpt

Online authentication has not exactly led businesses to the promised land of higher sales by making consumers feel more comfortable in dealing with their financial institutions.

Authentication -- a way to prove people are who they say they are when they do business on the Internet -- remains a valuable technology for business, vendors and their consultants say. However, now its main purpose is improving corporate efficiency and security.

And a goal of these vendors and consultants is to keep Microsoft Corp. out of the market.

The accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the technology consulting firm Gartner Inc. assembled panelists at the 21 Club in Manhattan last week to discuss the merits of "identification management." When it comes to high-tech solutions, businesses' priorities have clearly and justifiably changed, but authentication still deserves a place at the table, the panelists said.

"The big rush slowed down as the economy slowed down, and certainly the events of Sept. 11 extended that," said John Pescatore, a senior analyst at Gartner, who made the case for authentication's business utility. "So the focus here is on companies' saving money, doing things efficiently, not delighting users."

Joan Rosania, a director of Gartner Consulting, pointed out that, according to market research done by Gartner for PricewaterhouseCoopers and clients, the financial industry on average spends several more million dollars than other sectors, including high-tech and retail, on ID management.

Nonetheless, Ms. Rosania said, data security is not always a top priority. Many companies are more comfortable sticking with the status quo than testing new software, she said. "Their current system and user administration are seen as good enough."

In an overt pitch for their technology-vendor clients BMC Software Inc. …

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