Every three to five years, there’s a function that takes technology search by storm. The market catches on to an idea, and every company seems to need the same type of leader at the exact same time. Sometimes these trends follow the normal life cycle of a business, but oftentimes, companies are trying to keep up with the Joneses and getting in on the action for fear of being left behind.
Here’s a spin down memory lane…
- From 2010 to 2013, the market was hyper-focused on Inside Sales leaders as companies were developing their new, high velocity SaaS business models.
- Then, for the next few years, the market was flooded with Customer Success searches, the logical progression in the SaaS business model lifecycle, and every company was competing for the same 10 or so “Customers for Life” leaders from Salesforce.
- For the better part of the past six years, Growth roles have been all the rage as companies try to develop the next great frictionless viral product.
In all three cases, the functions were so new that there were hardly any candidates with more than just a handful of years of experience. Clients were often having to make a hire based on potential rather than proven experience.
In these searches, the demand for such a small group of qualified candidates bred inflated compensation packages and egos, challenging candidate personalities…and painfully long cycle times.
Identity Management takes center stage
The function that we’re beginning to see garner more attention now is Product leadership for Identity Management products. However, despite the demand, these searches and executives are not following similar trends as other “functions of the moment.”
Why is this role becoming so crucial?
Consumer and B2B companies alike need this role. Whether it’s to enable a workforce, build third party security products, or to improve a consumer experience – identity fundamentally sits at the center of everything we do.
So, where did this role originate from? Identity & Access Management was born (and intended) originally for purely defensive purposes. The technology was designed to prevent fraudulent activity, account takeovers, create privileged access to information, and to generally prevent bad actors from doing things they shouldn’t. In 2022, these capabilities are as critical as ever — no question about that — but they’re more or less table stakes for any company that cares about keeping customers.
Identity sits at the heart of everything we do
The most innovative companies understand the benefits of Identity Management beyond the defensive posture that they provide. They’re weaving identity into the very core of an experience so that experience is essentially powered by it.
SaaS companies caught onto this notion first, as they evolved from point solutions to platforms with modules that customers worked through. With the low switching costs that are inherent to SaaS models, a frictionless workflow and experience across modules and acquired assets is absolutely necessary to keep customers engaged, sticky and paying.
Leading consumer companies have applied this same logic to their offerings. They’re tailoring experiences to a persona rather than an account and credit card. The result is a more meaningful and extends the relationship with a customer.
Companies like Apple have this idea dialed in – a user can move seamlessly from service to service with a single set of credentials and the experience feels seamless and frankly just works. They go so far as thinking about and planning for a customer’s identity when the individual no longer ceases to exist!
In an age where every company, no matter what they sell, is held to the same standards as Apple and there is an expectation that an experience is delightful and simply works, identity management is essential.
In the face of a bear market, survival comes down to keeping customers engaged and delivering relevant experiences. The right Identity strategy and products enable you to meet a specific customer at the right place, right time, and with the right experience.
More and more, consumer companies that were once single product point offerings and have now grown organically and through M&A into multi-product, multi-faceted consumer portfolios are spending big bucks to develop this identity strategy and fabric that can be wrapped around everything they offer.
So how are these Identity Product leaders and searches different from other “functions of the moment?”
- Unlike other functions we see pop up overnight, Identity & Access Management, as a category, has been slowly baking for the past 20+ years. After decades of thoughtful development, the concepts, technology, and leaders in Identity Management are starting to enjoy the limelight — and deservedly so!
- This slow burn has also led to a different type of leader. They are credible and have bodies of work that span decades. They are emerging fully mature and with experience rather than potential.
- What is most striking, though, for such an in demand leader is they come with almost none of the brashness and bravado. They’re some of the most humble and thoughtful executives in the market.
- Identity Management executives are truly unique in that the community rallies behind the mission of ensuring end user protection, a safer world, and a tailored experience. This ethos reveals itself in how they routinely refer their colleagues (and even direct reports) for roles in the interest of the greater good. In my 10+ years of recruiting, this is extremely uncommon behavior from the candidate community.
Keep an eye out for my next blog post in which I’ll share some insights on what criteria to consider when hiring an identity management leader. In the meantime, if we can help you think through your organizational structure or leadership team now or in the future, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Check out some recent & relevant articles from my team, SPMB’s Digital Transformation Practice, on today’s executive recruiting environment…