Las Vegas - Social, mobile, cloud and the explosion of data are a "nexus of forces" that have taken enterprise needs for identity and access management and propelled them to the forefront.
That was the message Monday that opened Gartner's annual Identity and Access Management conference. Those four computing trends threaten to expose many enterprise IAM infrastructures as antiquated. To re-enforce the point, a large swath of the audience of 800 plus raised their hands when asked if they were attending the conference for the first time.
"We are not projecting some ivory tower thoughts, all of this is at your front door today," said Perry Carpenter, research director at Gartner. "Now you are here saying how do we deal with it."
The "it" is being fueled by trends in cloud, mobile and social computing along with piles of data seeping from the nooks and cranny of every repository both inside and outside the enterprise.
Today, users have more access to more data, more ways to share that data and more devices with which to access that data. To complete the enterprise conundrum, IT today has less oversight on all of those variables.
"Bring your own device happened long ago," said Chris Howard, managing vice president of research at Gartner. "Now it is about bring your own everything. And identity has an important role in making that work."
Howard said at the center of the nexus are people who work with the expectation they can connect to each other and to data. Enterprises must heed the expectations of their users and build an identity architecture that delivers what they want without compromising the organization.
"We have to move from IT that is highly prescriptive," says Howard. "Today we don't know how people will use the technology you put in their hands. So all of this makes your job hard."
Earl Perkins, research vice president at Gartner, said it is wrong for the enterprise to think IAM's value is in the control that it provides, "it is the fact it allows the enterprise to make intelligent business decisions. Today we talk about IAM too much in the technology sense."
But as much as the nexus of forces are impacting enterprise IT, Perkins says expertise exists today that can be applied to the transition.
Enterprises have IAM experiences, he says, that are useful, such as building trust mechanisms that can apply to the social media environment to ensure users are who they say they are. Or for subtracting access issues from mobile computing so that no matter the device or the user's location access controls are consistent.
"I believe with the nexus of forces, as it weaves within IAM, we will see more opportunity than challenges," said Perkins.
And he says part of the opportunity is for IAM architects who, having carried the ID banner this far, are now finding converts in other areas of the business such as CEOs who have not only heard of IAM but are willing to listen and spend.