Feet on the Street: Gartner’s IAM Summit Focuses on Business Intelligence

The SailPoint team just returned from the 2010 Gartner IAM Summit in San Diego. It’s always a great show because of the focus on IdM and the organizations that attend the show. This year, attendance was up and there were lots of networking opportunities to exchange ideas on this rapidly changing market. I got the sense that many companies have emerged from their recessionary shells and are planning major IdM projects. Perhaps even more exciting was the amount of airtime spent – both in analyst presentations and customer conversations – on identity governance as a new focus for IdM projects.

As our faithful readers know, SailPoint was an early pioneer of identity governance. Since we started the company in 2005, SailPoint has been talking about the need to refocus identity management to better address business needs – to provide better visibility and transparency. Gartner echoed this point of view in the recently published 2010 Provisioning Magic Quadrant and reinforced it during this week’s Summit.

Bill Hostmann, a Gartner business intelligence (BI) analyst, opened the first day with a session titled “Transforming IAM: The New Business Intelligence Connection.” He spoke about the need for IdM to go beyond simple “reporting” to correlate data and facilitate analysis. Bill pointed out that BI is about exploiting information to make better decisions, and that’s where the true business value lies.

I wholeheartedly agree, and believe that’s why identity governance has been so well received with business users. Identity governance uses a BI approach determine “who has access to what” across the enterprise – and provides the necessary context for business users to determine whether that access is appropriate and whether it aligns with corporate policy.

Gartner’s Earl Perkins echoed Bill’s thinking in his Monday presentation. He acknowledged that in the past, IdM was designed to make IT’s life easier, not enable the business. Now, though, as audit and compliance requirements pull more business managers into IdM processes, there are new requirements for IdM’s tools. Providing business intelligence about identity data to those business users has become table stakes for IdM. At the same time, Earl emphasized that IT managers need to switch from an IT-centric focus to a strategy for providing tangible value to the business.

A new feature of this year’s IAM Summit was the addition of a “Burton track” to provide technical depth and how-to advice. Two sessions in this track focused on identity and access governance (IAG). In these, Lori Rowland provided an overview of the IAG market and capabilities, advising the audience to start with IAG and follow with provisioning as a way to gain quick wins and show business value. Lori reiterated that IAG is becoming a major segment of identity management.

Probably the best part of the show was speaking with so many customers who already have embarked on identity governance projects. The IAM Summit was a nice reminder of how far we’ve come and a great energy boost as we head into 2011!