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In simpler – and more static – times, Identity and Access Management (IAM) was primarily an inside job, meaning that employees would access applications and companies would establish access privileges to company data via user provisioning, compliance reporting, and single-sign-on functions from behind the safe confines of a firewall.

Today, however, in order to keep pace with a corporate landscape that is shaped by an ever-evolving and increasingly mobile workforce, IAM solutions need to enable employees and their devices to stay connected from anywhere in the world.

And it’s not just the number of remote employees that are on the rise; it’s also the applications, which are now available to external users. Just think about all of outsiders that organizations must interact with beyond their firewalls in order to run their business. After all, organizations need to manage supply chains via application sharing with partners and suppliers; manage distribution online; and complete transactions directly with consumers.

What’s more, we’re not talking about a small number of exclusive outside users. Instead, we’re talking about large-scale sets of varied users. As such, this new reality for IAM demands a dramatically different approach to the way organizations are managing and accessing IT applications.

Logically enough, this new reality is where IAM begins to shed its static roots and morph into a solution known as Identity Relationship Management (IRM). Unlike the insulated and protected world of IAM, which predominantly has had to deal only with doling out access privileges from behind a firewall, the evolving and secure world of IRM connects devices – such as laptops, phones, and tablets – with new mobile and social apps to an always-on single security platform – whether that platform be on premises or in the cloud.

Indeed, as the number of both people and devices needing assigned identities grows at an unprecedented rate across company networks, one fact is becoming inescapable: straightforward and scalable IRM services are crucial for businesses if they not only want to efficiently validate identities and access privileges, but also safely engage with and serve their customers.

Consider this: Customers now expect to be able to safely deposit checks from their phones, order services through a cloud app, and make purchases from a laptop. Of course, each of these activities requires identity and access tools that can easily cultivate and nurture trust-driven relationships with individuals both inside and outside of a business.

This is where IRM tools handily enter the scene and become essential to an organization’s bottom line.

Without question, we have witnessed over the last decade a major shake-up in the IAM market, one that will see the IAM-only suppliers attempting to keep up with their IRM contemporaries. It’s becoming increasingly clear, though, to IAM vendors, that a simple enhancement of their offerings is not going to satisfy for much longer their current installed base of users, nor will it help in attracting new customers.

Rather – thanks to social apps, mobile devices, Software as a Service (SaaS), and the relatively recent and revolutionary shift to the cloud – Identity Relationship Management solutions will shape the future of Identity and Access Management. Not sure about you, but IAM already an IRM convert.

Kim KayKim Kay is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who specializes in technology and possesses more than 20 years of experience in B2B and consumer publishing. A noted writer and editor across a myriad of mediums in both in the U.S. and overseas, she has also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Computer Technology Review for more than a decade. Follow her on Twitter @kimberlygkay and like her on Facebook at Ink Spot Publishing.

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