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Unpacking the Horizons of Identity Security 2023-24

Authored by Jaishree Submramania, Vice President Product Marketing

Historically, nautical explorers have often used the North Star as a guiding light, providing critical direction among vast and uncharted territories. Just as those explorers relied on that constant beacon, modern enterprises need a steadfast guide in the sprawling digital realm. Identity security is that guide, delivering organizations safely and securely to their innovative futures.  

As our digital horizons expand, peppered with cloud innovations and looming cyber threats, charting the right course isn’t a mere recommendation—it’s essential. SailPoint, in collaboration with Accenture, recently published “The Horizons of Identity Security 2023-24” report, which extends upon last year’s introduction of these key concepts and dives deeper into critical issues. This year’s report offers comprehensive insights and action steps for organizations at various stages of identity security maturity. 

The future of identity security  

Identity Horizons: A revealing look at slow adoption rates 

The 2023 report continues to build upon an insightful framework introduced in last year’s Horizons of Identity” report, ranging from Horizon 1 (least mature) to Horizon 5 (most mature). Companies in Horizon 1 lack both comprehensive identity strategy and technology, whereas those in Horizon 5 employ next-gen technologies to blur the boundaries between enterprise and external identity controls. It’s worth noting that 44% of the 375 companies surveyed are still at Horizon 1, missing out on the potential benefits that come with mature identity programs. However, about 8% of companies have successfully made the jump from Horizon 2 to Horizon 3.  

Reaping the rewards: Real-world benefits of advanced identity security 

For organizations that have advanced beyond the early stages of identity security, the tangible business benefits are impressive. Real-world examples showcase a large bank boosting its cloud migration speed by 15-20% and another financial services firm automating processes to reduce user access certifications by 80%. Moreover, a utility company dramatically shortened employee and partner onboarding from over two weeks to mere hours. Meanwhile, a prominent process manufacturer saved $1M in IT operations within a single year.  

These success stories highlight the operational efficiencies and cost-saving opportunities a mature identity program can deliver. Importantly, data suggests that low-maturity companies shouldn’t shy away from embracing advanced capabilities. While adoption rates differ, ranging from 15-90%, the actual usage of these capabilities remains steady at about 50-70%, regardless of the complexity or the maturity level of the company. This means that even less mature companies can achieve comparable success to their more mature counterparts when implementing and scaling advanced capabilities. 

Making the business case: Tackling budget and boardroom hurdles in identity security 

Across all maturity levels, the most significant barrier is a constrained budget, with 91% of survey respondents mentioning it as a primary obstacle. This lack of investment stems from the inability of security professionals to articulate the business value of identity programs, thus making it hard to gain executive sponsorship. Interestingly, 77% of respondents cited “limited executive sponsorship or focus” as another major hurdle, reinforcing the need for improved communication between security professionals and decision-makers. Overcoming these challenges is critical for companies to advance along the identity horizons and reap the benefits of operational efficiencies and risk mitigation. 

From slow to go: Speeding up identity implementation with SaaS, AI/ML, and automation 

Companies that utilize advanced technologies such as SaaS, AI/ML, and automation experience enhanced benefits, implementing new capabilities 20% faster and scaling them 37% quicker than those that don’t. Additionally, these technologies improve the utilization of identity security capabilities across the organization. According to the report, these  technological investments are pivotal in helping organizations leapfrog from lower maturity horizons, like Horizon 1 or 2, to more advanced stages, like Horizon 3, where identity capabilities are adopted at scale. These technologies not only speed up implementation but also contribute to broader coverage, including third-party and machine identities, ultimately fortifying the organization’s overall security posture. 

Driving to scale: Managing unique challenges in Identity Horizons 

Even though a constrained budget is a common challenge across all horizons, the specific obstacles vary. For those at the earliest stages (Horizon 1), managing technical debt and developing a robust operating model  are crucial for breaking the inertia. In contrast, mature companies, particularly those at Horizons 4 and 5, should focus on expanding the coverage of their existing capabilities to achieve holistic identity security programs. Interestingly, the report highlights that even companies with advanced identity capabilities often struggle to cover more than 70% of the identities in their organization. Therefore, mature companies need to not only scale but also aim for more comprehensive coverage, including third-party identities, machine identities, and data, to build a truly robust identity security program. 

Industries and geographies: Who is at the forefront of identity security 

When compiling this year’s report, we noted a couple interesting takeaways. 

  • While the technology and banking sectors are at the forefront of identity security, utilities and manufacturing are making rapid strides, likely driven by the increasing complexity of their identity ecosystems and large attack surfaces.  
  • Geographically, North America and Europe lead in identity security maturity, with APAC presenting a mix of maturity levels.  

Navigating your identity journey: An adoption assessment tool 

Charting your organization’s identity security progress in is no easy task. To aid companies in pinpointing their current position and potential growth areas, we’ve developed an adoption assessment tool. The adoption assessment tool will: 

-Help you determine where you currently stand in your identity journey 

-Gauge your capability utilization against competitors in your sector 

-Discover common obstacles faced by similar businesses and identify tailored solutions to overcome your unique challenges 

By understanding the value proposition of an effective identity program and investing wisely, you’ll be ready for stronger security and business growth. You’ll uncover more insights than you think. 

Ready for the future? 

To succeed in today’s digital world, companies must prioritize identity security, not just as a protective measure but as a business enabler. 

Don’t just adapt; lead the way in identity security and set your organization up for a future where you’re not just surviving, but thriving. 

Ready to secure your identity landscape? Download the SailPoint Horizon’s of Identity Security report and check out our infographic for more information, or schedule a conversation to discuss your identity security environment today.