Both @@IDENTITY and SCOPE_IDENTITY() return the last identity value (primary key) that was entered by your active session, but in different scenarios they can each return different values. SCOPE_IDENTITY and @@IDENTITY return the last identity values that are generated in any table in the current session. However, SCOPE_IDENTITY returns values inserted only within the current scope; @@IDENTITY is not limited to a specific scope. Active session is the current activity you are engaging in. For example, if you can a stored procedure, that is what I am referring to as your active session. Each call to t a stored procedure (or user defined function, etc) is a session, unless the a stored procedure is nested in the stored procedure you are calling. In the case of a nested stored procedure or user defined method, while they are separate methods, they are part of the current session, but not part of the current scope. Your scope is limited to the method (stored procedure or user defined function) that you explicitly invoked. This is where the difference between @@IDENTITY and SCOPE_IDENTITY() comes in.
@@IDENTITY will return the last identity value entered into a table in your current session (this is limited to your session only, so you won't get identities entered by other users). While @@IDENTITY is limited to the current session, it is not limited to the current scope. In other words, if you have a trigger on a table that causes an identity to be created in another table, you will get the identity that was created last, even if it was the trigger that created it. Now this isn't bad, as long as you ensure that things are done in the correct order. Where this can get ugly is when there is an application revision and a new trigger gets added that gets fired from your stored procedure. Your code didn't anticipate this new trigger, so you could now be getting an incorrect value back.
SCOPE_IDENTITY(), like @@IDENTITY, will return the last identity value created in the current session, but it will also limit it to your current scope as well. In other words, it will return the last identity value that you explicitly created, rather than any identity that was created by a trigger or a user defined function.
For example, there are two tables, T1 and T2, and an INSERT trigger is defined on T1. When a row is inserted to T1, the trigger fires and inserts a row in T2. This scenario illustrates two scopes: the insert on T1, and the insert on T2 by the trigger.
Assuming that both T1 and T2 have identity columns, @@IDENTITY and SCOPE_IDENTITY will return different values at the end of an INSERT statement on T1. @@IDENTITY will return the last identity column value inserted across any scope in the current session. This is the value inserted in T2. SCOPE_IDENTITY() will return the IDENTITY value inserted in T1. This was the last insert that occurred in the same scope. The SCOPE_IDENTITY() function will return the null value if the function is invoked before any INSERT statements into an identity column occur in the scope.
@@IDENTITY returns the most recently created identity for your current connection, not necessarily the identity for the recently added row in a table. Always use SCOPE_IDENTITY() to return the identity of the recently added row.