Facebook: The new arbiter of enterprise identity

Today Facebook knows your identity. Tomorrow Facebook may very well be your identity. Before long, enterprise identity and access management may key off of social media identities rather than remaining an island unto itself. Are you prepared? That's the message that Gartner analyst Earl Perkins passed on to attendees at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo conference last month.

Today, the enterprise, its business partners, government and social media all issue identities. But the consumerization of identity, driven by mobile, BYOD and social media, could soon change all that. Perkins calls this trend the socialization of identity, and Gartner expects the trend to start in retail over the next two years. By end of 2015, Gartner predicts that 30% of all new retail customer identities will be based on social network identities, and it expects the trend to gradually expand out from there.

While today identity is delivered by the enterprise, there's no reason why identities can't come from somewhere else, Perkins argues. "In a decade or so, depending on the mobility of the social media environment and our ability to build an enterprise-class shell around that identity, [social media] could become the dominant identity providers," he says.

Efforts to create a common, consolidated identity have been tried before, most notably by the government -- and failed. But this time Perkins thinks social media has a good shot at driving consumer identities into the enterprise, particularly as the adoption of BYOD blurs the boundaries between the enterprise and the personal at the device level.

As it is, enterprise identity information is already melding into Facebook in the form of contacts. With iOS 6, Facebook contact and email information is now integrated with the email and contact system on users' iPhones. "By 2017 40% of your contact information will leak out and products like this will make this more of a threat. The consumer and business worlds are coming together. How are you going to manage that?" asks analyst Ken Dulaney.

The expected movement of enterprise identity and access management into the cloud could also facilitate the transition toward the socialization of identity. Today less than 5% of enterprises use identity as a service (IDaaS). "By end of 2015, identity and access management as a service will account for 40% of all IAM sales," Perkins says.

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