A term I heard recently was 'lick to authenticate'. In other words, regardless of what authentication method you support now, you should be able to swap it out and replace it with whatever is trending or appropriate in the future.
Your pluggable authentication service should also support 'authentication workflow', which handles the interactions with customers around their authentication.
Most of you will be familiar with the concept through services like Google which warn you about potentially suspicious access, such as when someone logs in from a new device for the first time. This might trigger the need to answer a secret question, for example.
These interactions both aid security and build trust with customers, which ultimately deepens the relationship. They also serve to educate customers about security and reduce any pain they experience -- and reputational damage to the organisation -- when a change in their behaviour is required.
As a technical person, a pluggable authentication service is a great toy to be able to play around with. Not every techie will see it that way, however, as some will be wedded to their existing systems. The decision to implement agile authentication, however, is one that the business needs to drive, and not leave to the technologists, if your organisation wants to compete in the digital economy.
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