METRICS: Positive ID

Companies are looking to identity management tools as a way to streamline their security and privacy practices, cut costs and improve services, according to a recent survey. Identity management technologies include those that help network managers to more easily control and monitor access to resources that typically require multiple passwords or other levels of protection.

Nervewire, a US consulting and systems integration firm, surveyed 145 US companies in early November and found that 38 per cent expect their identity management investments to return up to five times the cost of the investments. Another 10 per cent expect a return at of least six times the cost of the investment. More than half of the companies surveyed were financial services firms and/or had a CSO.

Many of these gains, they expect, will be realised in customer-facing applications. Companies that have already implemented identity management tools (23 per cent of the sample) reported a 22.4 per cent increase in customer service, a 22.3 per cent increase in customer satisfaction and a 19 per cent increase in customer retention. Over the next 12 months, 30 per cent of the sample planned to implement identity management technologies.

Dr. Sanjiv Gossain, CTO of Nervewire, says there is a lot of pressure on companies to improve relations with their customers. Gossain says adding identity management features like single sign-on, which allows a user to access multiple resources with a single password, could increase revenues.

“They really do expect that identity management will impact, in a positive way, customer retention and service more than anything else,” Gossain says.

Even though 80 per cent of respondents said identity management was “very important” or “somewhat important,” nearly one-third of companies surveyed said they had no plans to go forward with identity management projects. This group cited a lack of executive sponsorship as the top barrier to adoption, followed by unclear ROI and a lack of clear ownership of the project.

“CIOs do pick up the ownership,” Gossain says, “but where there’s an ROI case involved they need sponsorship from business leaders.”

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