Innovation Drives Navigate ’14

Identity is one of the most critical elements in the digital security chain. If an administrator (or service) can’t know with confidence that you are who you say you are, trust cannot be established. Trust is the glue that holds our economy together, digital or otherwise, so figuring out how to inject trust back into our online activities is a mission-critical concern for everyone — Fortune 500 businesses, SMBs, and even consumers.

SailPoint CEO Mark McClain kicked off Navigate ’14 this morning with a snapshot of SailPoint’s progress over the past year — and there was a lot of ground to cover. I attend a lot of conferences each year, and whether I’m at CES, CTIA or Interop, the term “innovation” is thrown around frequently, so much so that it has become a fairly empty word. People often don’t mean much more when they use the term “innovation” than the fact that they are releasing new products at a regular pace.

Whether users actually want those products is another matter.

SailPoint dodges this problem through what McClain refers to as “enforced listening.” Everyone claims to be customer focused, but do your prospects and customers actually drive your product decisions? Do they help guide your product enhancements? Do they lead you to your most logical partnerships?

Typically, not.

At SailPoint customer-facing employees are trained to constantly ask customers about their real-world pain points. The company was also positioned as the top leader in Gartner’s 2013 Magic Quadrant for IGA, and it was named to Deloitte’s Fast 500.

In fact, over the past year, SailPoint has expanded its engineering team, but, tellingly, increased its customer-facing team even more (customer service reps, sales reps, training professionals, etc.). This commitment should serve them well in coming years. Enforced listening can only work if you have enough ears to listen to all of your customers ideas and concerns.

Next, President Kevin Cunningham took the stage to discuss how SailPoint keeps in tune with its customer base. One of SailPoint’s techniques is simpler than you may think: surveys. “Through our customer surveys, we’ve learned that our users want more training options, and they would like to be able to keep track of product enhancements they’ve recommended.”

SailPoint has followed through to act on those suggestions, as well as delivering patches and updates more frequently.

Finally, Cunningham discussed the three big trends impacting the IAM space today: cloud, mobility, and data governance. SailPoint has extended its IdentityIQ product to the cloud, and it has released a Cloud Connector Gateway, which can help organizations manage disparate cloud services.

The company has also released a Mobile Device Manager (MDM) integration, while setting its sights on making all of its products mobile native over time.

The third trend, I think, is the most interesting one: data governance. Plenty of ink has been devoted to cloud and mobile trends, but data governance could be arguably even more important. “The amount of data being stored in non-traditional places, such as SharePoint or Box, is astronomical,” Cunningham said. “Eventually, identity management professionals will need to figure out how to protect this data. Auditors are already looking to see if companies have a plan in place to tackle this challenge.”

As Big Data replaces cloud and mobile as the hot trend of the day, this challenge may actually be part of the solution. Big Data tools could help organizations understand risks associated with particular users in particular settings on an array of different devices. Big Data could also — in addition to pulling in data from all over the place to gain insights into customer behaviors, organizational efficiencies and e-commerce processes — deliver insights about the state of the data itself and the risks surrounding it.

Identity is becoming far more complicated as user bases become more fractured and mobile, but it could well become the glue that holds the digital value chain together.