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IAM Focused On Users, and Getting Results
Derek Brink
JAN 20, 2016 18:52 PM
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IAM Focused On Users, and Getting Results

Businessman holding a key with the word success on it

In the blog IAM Investing for Success — Are You?, Aberdeen Group described insights from its Q4 2015 study on Identity and Access Management (IAM), which examined the use, experiences, and intentions of nearly 250 organizations from a diverse set of industries with respect to this important topic.

About half (47%) of all respondents indicated that their investments in IAM capabilities focus on internal enterprise users only, while the other half (53%) are investing in IAM capabilities to support users throughout the extended enterprise.

Not surprisingly, the research confirmed that enterprises focused on a broader range of users also invest more strongly in new IAM capabilities that align with and support those strategic objectives. Two examples from the research that illustrate this notion of “investing for success” are preventing the bad user behaviors, but fast-tracking the good, and streamlining and personalizing the user experience.

In this blog, we’ll look at ways that a broader strategic focus on users shows up in terms of results. Having an IAM strategy that focuses more broadly on the many types of users throughout your extended enterprise is good – investing more heavily in new IAM capabilities that align with and support this strategy is better.

But ultimately, the goal is to ensure that such investments in new IAM capabilities help produce the desired business value. Here are three examples of where focusing IAM more broadly on your users drives several valuable results.

IAM initiatives focused on the extended enterprise realized significantly greater year-over-year gains in user convenience, productivity, and satisfaction.

Compared to the enterprise-only group, the companies focused on their extended enterprise users reported a 56% higher increase in the number of remote and mobile users supported, which is a measure of user convenience. In addition, they reported a six-time higher year-over-year increase in user productivity, and a 1.8-time higher increase in user satisfaction (as indicated by the number of help desk calls related to IAM). Enabling users to spend less time on dealing with complex, IT-heavy tasks related to identities and access, and more time on carrying out their tasks, is a win for everyone.

IAM initiatives focused on the extended enterprise were able to support significantly higher user scale, at significantly lower per-user cost.

When normalized based on the total number of users, the companies focused on their extended enterprise users had 91% fewer full-time equivalent IAM administrators, and 87% fewer help desk staff related to IAM. We’ve all heard the expression that a given technology “scales” or “doesn’t scale” – but in this case, the same kinds of new IAM capabilities described in IAM Investing for Success — Are You? are making life better for both users and the enterprise.

IAM initiatives focused on the extended enterprise were able to sustain (and even improve) security, compliance, and reliability.

Given that the traditional drivers for investments in enterprise IAM initiatives have been focused on the objectives of controlcompliance, and cost, it would be a shame – but not necessarily a surprise! – if a broader focus on both internal and external users resulted in an erosion of performance in these dimensions.

Happily, Aberdeen’s research found that IAM initiatives focused on the extended enterprise were able to sustain, and in fact improve, their performance in these important areas, including: 85% fewer incidents of unauthorized access to resources78% fewer incidents of compromise of sensitive data84% fewer incidents of unplanned downtime78% fewer incidents of lack of access related to IAM; and 76% fewer audit deficiencies related to IAM.

Here again, the same kinds of new IAM capabilities that help make the user experience simpler, intuitive, and contextual are also resulting in user interactions with fewer exposures, errors, exceptions and end-arounds that inevitably lead to problems.

Take a Fresh Look at IAM

Positive results like these clearly don’t just happen automatically – they tie back to having clear and well-communicated strategic objectives; the right technologies, along with the corresponding skills and resources to fully utilize those technologies; and a comprehensive and well-integrated plan of action.

In fact, Aberdeen’s research confirms that the leading inhibitors – the reasons that some organizations don’t invest in these types of IAM initiatives – have to do with the fact that the operational context for managing identities and access has become significantly more complex:

  • Complexity requires timeexpertise, and focus that many organizations simply don’t have
  • Complexity includes the technologies for managing access to enterprise resources from a rapidly changing mix of devices, networks, and applications that need to be supported
  • Complexity also includes the people and process aspects of managing identities for a sharply growing volume and diversity of users

However, these realities should only trigger a fresh look at the current capabilities of leading IAM product and service providers to address these needs!


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