5 Trends Shaping Enterprise Identity Management

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Read more about author Jackson Shaw.

The $13 billion identity management market has been a popular area of investment in recent years, and for good reason. Cloud adoption, remote working environments, and the sheer number of business applications in use has opened new entry points for attackers. In response, a new wave of solutions and features has emerged to address identity. We’re spoiled for choice, yet 76% of users are unhappy with their current identity management solution, according to Gartner. 

Dissatisfaction with current solutions is certainly a contributor to why enterprises still default to manual, inefficient, insecure processes like email and spreadsheets to control access and permissions. But it’s not the full story. For that, we turn to the 2022 Identity Management Survey, exploring the trends, technologies, practices, and use cases shaping identity at work. By understanding the state of identity from more than 500 knowledge workers themselves, we can start to forge a better path forward. 


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Here are the five trends shaping modern enterprise identity, and what they mean for the industry.

1. It’s still early days for AI in identity: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are being used to automate tasks and workflows across many domains and industries. Security-related tasks are no exception, and there are early examples of AI/ML in identity security. Automating, identifying which employees need access to which data or system, and anomaly detection are a few of these applications. While two-thirds of survey respondents indicated that their company uses AI/ML to improve identity management, less than a third of them indicated that the technology yields moderate to high benefits for identity management. Despite AI’s potential, we have a way to go before it’s driving true value in identity management.

2. Multiple identity management solutions are at play: Over half of respondents with IT job functions indicated that they work with several vendors for identity governance, risk, compliance, single sign-on, PAM, and/or security operations.  Toggling between multiple, disparate systems for just security functions alone is a sure way to get users frustrated. This leads to increased help desk requests and insecure workarounds. Leaders should look to solutions that marry identity security functions within their existing tech stack for the best results. Our next finding tells a similar story.

3. Fewer apps could mean improved productivity: Respondents noted a benefit of reduced “context switching” – the need to shift between tools – if they could streamline the number of applications they use. In fact, 45% of respondents from IT job functions said they expected a high productivity boost from using fewer applications or systems, as compared to 41% of respondents outside the realm of IT. The point is, less is more when it comes to the number of technical tools and apps we expect employees to use on a regular basis. The evidence is clear: There are too many disparate solutions and applications in use, and it’s affecting workers’ ability to perform their best. 

4. User experience, cost, and time-to-access are top identity woes: Based on the last two findings, it’s no surprise user experience (UX) topped the list of challenges across most segments in the survey. One exception was respondents from small companies who cited cost as their top concern. Those that hold IT job functions cited user experience, cost, and time to access or fulfillment as the top three challenges. Without a seamless UX, productivity suffers, and so too does the overall business. Give your employees the tools and processes they need to succeed – this should be just as important as providing your customers with an optimal UX. 

5. ITSM and email are top identity management methods: Respondents from medium and large companies cited IT Service Management (ITSM)/workforce management platforms as the most popular option for controlling permissions and entitlements. Respondents with IT job functions cited email and ITSM)/workforce management platforms as the most popular options for managing permissions and entitlements. It’s encouraging to see the trend of more mature organizations managing identity within their ITSM platforms. But it’s equally concerning that email is the top method for controlling application permissions and entitlements. There are better ways, and after a breach or an audit is simply too late. 

With a fast-growing, highly distributed workforce, technology evolution, and looming cyber threats, we’re at an inflection point in identity management and security. Businesses will need to rethink their approach in the years ahead as identity management challenges become even more complex. There’s significant room for improvement when it comes to keeping tabs on digital identities and knowing what those priority areas are is an important first step. 

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