The Identity and Access Management (IAM) industry is changing--rapidly. Combine the lightening-fast pace with the fact that each organization finds itself at a different phase of IAM evolution and it can be hard to accurately pinpoint the state of the industry. Yet, understanding where companies are focusing their attention and resources as well as knowing how IAM requirements are changing can provide much-needed guidance as you plan for the new year ahead.

To gain clarity on how IAM professionals are faring when it comes to their IAM initiatives, particularly as they support digital transformations, Ping Identity conducted a global survey of more than 200 IT decision makers. The results shed light on the 2016 trends that are shaping the IAM industry and shaping how companies are responding to the pressures of digital transformation.

We focused on key strategies including single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA) access security and open standards. We then assessed the role that these strategies play in the accelerated adoption of mobile, online and IoT technologies by improving digital security and delivering better experiences for customers, employees and partners.

Here are a few of the trends that IAM pros, IT leaders and business decision makers can factor into their 2017 planning sessions:

  1. Identity is the key to digital transformation
    Ninety percent of survey respondents agree that IAM is important to their company's digital transformation. Digital transformation requires a range of tools, new processes and infrastructure investments, and the ability to manage customer, employee and partner identity data drives the effectiveness of everything involved. Organizations need a way to collect, secure, and use identity data to enable access to digital resources and to fuel engagement across multiple digital channels, apps and devices. IAM solutions purpose-built for the demands of digital business can help companies remain competitively nimble in the digital world.
  2. OpenID Connect is the most widely adopted IAM standard
    Forty-nine percent of companies surveyed use the OpenID Connect authentication standard. OpenID Connect meets the challenges of authenticating users in an increasingly mobile and cloud-based world. It uses the same building blocks as modern application architectures and APIs (REST and JSON.) As a result, OpenID Connect adds an identity later to OAuth 2.0 to create a cohesive framework that secures APIs as well as mobile and browser applications
  3. Public cloud fuels IAM adoption
    More organizations are moving to public cloud infrastructures to save costs and increase scalability and agility, but security is a top concern as IT leaders make the move to the cloud. In fact, respondents ranked security as their number one obstacle to cloud adoption. Many organizations are looking to IAM to manage and audit access and authenticate users in the cloud. Microsoft Azure is the leading platform in which IT leaders are running IAM technologies at 36 percent followed by Google Cloud Platform at 25 percent.
  4. IAM powers access to mobile and cloud apps at work
    User experience is growing as a metric by which workplaces are judged. When employees engage with technologies at work, they expect the same convenience they enjoy as consumers. This increases the pressure for work environments to deliver seamless and secure employee and partner access to mobile and cloud apps via SSO and MFA; however, many companies still have not adopted these IAM strategies. Ninety percent of respondents view IAM as important for securing employee access to apps and 86 percent view IAM as important for employee access to the cloud. Yet, only 69 percent have adopted SSO for employees and only 61 percent have adopted secure web, mobile and API management for employee access.
  5. Identity-defined security drives customer engagement and acquisition
    Security strategies are increasingly centered around identity as digital business erases the data center perimeter where data was traditionally secured behind firewalls. Eighty-nine percent of survey respondents view IAM as important to customer experience and engagement and 86 percent agree that IAM technologies have helped secure customer experience. However, adoption rates for SSO, MFA and secure access in customer identity use cases remains relatively low with 43 percent adopting SSO, 40 percent adopting MFA and 48 percent adopting secure access.
  6. IAM secures partner ecosystems
    Eighty-five percent of respondents say IAM solutions are critical to onboarding partners and managing the partner supply chain process. Yet, customer and employee identities remain the central area of focus for many organizations with 50 percent of IT leaders ranking partner IAM as lower in priority despite the fact that recent high profile breaches have occurred through vulnerabilities in the partner ecosystem. We expect to see a reversal in this trend in the coming year as organizations make data security even more of a priority.

There's no doubt uncertainty is a byproduct of change, but by keeping your finger on the pulse of how organizations are using IAM capabilities, you can navigate the shifting landscape more confidently. To dive deeper into our survey findings and gleen more helpful insights from 2016 IAM trends, find the full report here.

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