Just about any type of company has partners (along with the data and systems those partners need to access). But no one wants the headache of individually managing user identities that are external to their own organization. Employees come and go every day, and it's hard enough keeping track of your own. But managing those from other partner entities--that's a whole other ball game.
Before your partners can access your data, they need to validate that they are who they say they are. The risk of letting in an unauthorized user (via old credentials, for example) is great, and the potential for costly damage to your reputation is high. To minimize these risks, any company with more than one partner is going to be in the market for a partner identity and access management (IAM) solution. Sooner or later, at least.
If you sell through a channel, speed to revenue is going to drive your need for a partner IAM solution. Simply put, the faster you can secure your partners' access to the applications they need, the faster you can get their goods on your shelves (or the faster they can sell your product or service). So time is of the essence.
On the other hand, if you are a large retailer, risk reduction is likely your main driver for buying a partner IAM solution. With so many suppliers--aka partners--located all over the world, you need a quick way to establish relationships. A great way to remove friction and kickstart the functionality of your global supply chain is by eliminating the need to validate your partners' users on your own.
No matter where you sit, there are a few basic drivers leading to increased interest in partner IAM:
Cost. Managing thousands or even millions of partner IDs and passwords is very expensive. Think about constantly adding new users and dealing with password resets.
Risk. How many of your partner identities are still active, valid users? One of our large customers discovered that only about 300,000 of their 1,000,000+ identities were actually active users. This risk has caused global breach in the recent past. No one wants to be that guy.
Adoption. Some companies have tried to manage their partners' identities on their own with various solutions. But they found that getting their partners to adopt the solution was even harder than architecting it. Adoption and onboarding must be very simple.
Meeting diverse needs. Finally, from an identity perspective, partners typically fall into three distinct buckets of technological sophistication (more on that in an upcoming post). The solution needs to meet the know-how of all groups easily, securely and reliably.