The complexity of the issues surrounding identity management — managing user access to applications and information based on proof of identity — is exploding as a result of the connectivity underlying the Internet.

“Opening up the enterprise to partners, customers, and suppliers creates enormous demands on overworked IT departments, leaving aside the baseline issues of managing the IDs of the workforce. Something as seemingly simple as proper maintenance and oversight of user IDs can be problematic,” said Stowe Boyd, author of the Cutter Business Intelligence Report, in which these assertions were made.

According to some estimates, one-quarter of user IDs within a typical enterprise are invalid or expired. The costs of maintaining these IDs on a real-time basis are often prohibitive, leading to the unpleasant prospect that an employee who was terminated last month may still have access to mission-critical IT assets.

“In addition, there are problems associated with customer satisfaction,” said Boyd. “What happens when customers cannot access the information that they need on a timely and relevant basis?”

To address these problems, Boyd said IT buyers should begin by assessing what is needed for digital identity management, and then investigate vendors’ offerings across the various business processes and functions affected. Once these individual process or functional requirements are developed, they can be coalesced into an enterprise-level set of requirements.

Even when the initial rollout of a digital identity management solution is limited to a single function or business process, all the enterprise requirements should be laid down. This helps avoid making a decision that ultimately affects the entire enterprise based on what is needed in one function or process.”

Boyd concludes, “The barriers are great, but the return on the investments will be significant. Indeed, it is unclear how the enterprise of the immediate future can operate without the emergence of strong, reliable, and ubiquitous digital identity management.”

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