Researchers warned today that there is a pressing need for companies to scrutinize existing identity management policies to keep pace with rapid developments in access technology and mobile devices.

According to the latest report from Bloor Research, firms need to take a "serious look" at their existing identity management policies in order to maintain acceptable levels of network security.

In its Identity Management Bullseye report, the analyst group's security practice leader, Fran Howarth, predicts that identity management technologies will be among the most important investments that companies of all sizes will make over the coming decade.

"Identity management is the new business imperative," explained Justin Speake, chief executive officer at Bloor Research.

"It is not just about security, because it holds the promise of vastly increasing the operational efficiency and productivity across organisations. As well as this, an effective identity management strategy will help companies to comply with the ever-changing regulations around data access and usage."

As well as the obvious security benefits, the report points out that an effective identity management strategy, enables companies to reduce costs and improve efficiency by the automation of business resource provisioning, such as allocating laptops, mobile phones and server access.

According to Bloor, additional benefits of effective identity management policies include allowing companies to comply with the latest legislation surrounding privacy, data protection and corporate governance. This is achieved by providing directors and managers with an audit of all transactions on their systems, as well as providing a record of who accessed what information, at what time and any modifications.

Breaking the market down into four categories (identity management suites, provisioning vendors, SSO vendors and other vendors), Bloor awarded gold medals to Computer Associates, IBM, Courion, Protocom/ActivCard and Eurekify.

www.bloor-research.com/sc/idm2005