Decentralized Identities in all their facets have been a hot topic at the European Identity and Cloud Conference 2023 (EIC), which ran in Berlin last week. Just a few days before, Microsoft announced their support for Verified Workplace in LinkedIn using Microsoft Entra Verified ID.

Verifying the workplace

What Microsoft announced is focused on a particular use case, the verification of workplaces of LinkedIn members. It builds on multi-step verification.

The entry level is workplace email verification. There is little friction in that. Organizations can verify the work mail of their employees based on a lightweight WebApp adding to the Microsoft Entra Verified ID service, which again requires a Microsoft Entra Azure Active Directory (AD) tenant. Factually, this allows issuing verified credentials/IDs based on Azure AD or any other OpenID Connect (OIDC) provider.

In the U.S., Microsoft also will provide, together with its partner Clear, a government identity verification and binding to this. This adds another level of proof.

The third step then is a wallet for professionals that, in the first phase, can accept verified credentials. Enterprises can issue credentials to their employees that can be shared with LinkedIn or to Microsoft Authenticator for verification beyond LinkedIn. This thus integrates both the Microsoft Authenticator and LinkedIn – relying parties that are talking to the Authenticator also can talk to LinkedIn and the Authenticator can be used for extended verification scenarios.

Microsoft is basing this on the (still emerging set of) standards around decentralized identity, making it interoperable.

The first step into practice and towards critical mass

While the announcement is focused on a specific use case, it is an important step forward towards the ubiquitous use of decentralized identities:

  • It demonstrates a concrete, practical application of decentralized identities.
  • It builds on standards for interoperability.
  • It is supported by a growing partner ecosystem.
  • It neatly integrates with Microsoft Entra (including Azure Active Directory), LinkedIn, etc., and can be integrated with further solutions.
  • It provides concrete value to the users.
  • It helps in creating a critical mass of users.

At the EIC, I’ve illustrated my talk about decentralized identity in the enterprise with the employee and partner onboarding use case, where a verified government ID is used for initial onboarding and proofs of employment and job title/role are used for partner onboarding. In the public preview, Microsoft is demonstrating such a use case in combination with Entitlement Management, a feature within Microsoft Entra.

I’m looking forward to seeing broader adoption of the Decentralized Identity model across the globe. Approaches such as the one announced by Microsoft can help it happen earlier.