OpenID is for small business

Blinksale OpenID Signin Form

I’ve had this opinion for some time but felt that it was time to memorialize it: OpenID is not only the domain of grassroots developers, but it also (and should be more so) is the domain of small and independent businesses.

What better way to know and serve your customer than to be able to both identity who they are consistently and, where appropriate, hook up complementary services between sites through on uniform authentication experience?

Blinksale announced its support for OpenID today, only two weeks after 37 Signals upgraded Basecamp, their flagship collaboration app, to support the protocol following a successful trial on Highrise, their contact management web app. In the comments, Jason pointed out that the Open Bar feature of Basecamp enabled by OpenID will eventually be present in all their apps, hinting at how OpenID helps you better serve your customers across disparate applications.

I think that this is where OpenID will really shine — where you can have web applications like Basecamp, Highrise, Harvest, Blinksale, Freshbooks, Pownce and others all working seemlessly together even if they’re provided by different vendors, simply because they’re able to treat you as the same person as you move from one to another.

Screw big business adoption; the place where OpenID wins is with the little guys in small business — and with the grassroots folks who are agile, who can move to adopt this technology and who realize that this is the best chance they’ve had to really start treating their customers like real people instead of isolated records in their user database like all the big guys have for so long.

And I’m absolutely thrilled that business likes Blinksale and 37 Signals are starting to see this and turn this into a reality.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

2 thoughts on “OpenID is for small business”

  1. And while I’m commenting in the tangent of “one login to rule them all”, and by “them all” i mean the myriad of small business webapps I use to run my business, I have to commend instances of OpenID like Basecamp. They not only allow you to log in using OpenID (eliminating the stash of user/pass for different accounts with different partners), but 37 signals went the next step and tied the otherwise disconnected accounts at their now common point: the OpenID user. Now, I can quick-switch from one basecamp account to another.

    In the future, how sweet would it be to have an OpenID based small business “dashboard” that gives you access to all of the apps you use…Basecamp, Blinksale, Lighthouse, Beanstalk…and elegant movement between them.

    Since most developers swift enough to be picking up OpenID now are also providing quality APIs, this could literally end up being a power-suite for people running businesses like we do.

    Now I got myself excited.

  2. This is definitely great news for small business. I also applaud the idea of open APIs to allow individuals/small businesses to create a dashboard of apps that work for them, in the workflow that works for them, rather than by way of some arbitrary big vendor marketing decision, which, in my experience is informed by committee-think rather than by usability issues.

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