Identity + M&A: A Q&A with Forrester Research

The role of technology in today’s M&A projects is a critical factor in driving a successful M&A – organizations need to consider how to use technology to ensure a secure, but practical and seamless transition in giving user’s day one access to corporate resources. Identity and access management is a key component in ensuring that your users stay productive after an M&A transaction occurs. We recently sat down with guest speaker Merritt Maxim, Principal Analyst at Forrester, to discuss why identity is so important to ensure a successful M&A project, and how a cloud identity and access management solution accelerates and simplifies M&A. Below are the key takeaways from our discussion.

Q (Teju): In a traditional M&A transaction, there's a common need to consolidate multiple domains in order to provide users access to critical business applications. The challenge with domain consolidation is that it can be expensive and time consuming, especially with multiple legacy systems involved. How can companies use a cloud Identity & Access Management as a first step to achieve digital transformation & deprecate legacy systems?

A (Maxim): One of the key aspects of any M&A transaction is sustaining high productivity for all employees in the newly created entity. Unfortunately, the complexities of merging directory domains during the integration process can lead to employees losing access to certain systems. This affects user productivity but also results in unnecessary support costs from the help desk having to resolve these user access issues. Having a cloud IAM solution helps minimize such disruptions by relying on a single centralized identity store that minimizes the risk of users losing access to systems, thus ensuring high levels of employee engagement and productivity.

Q: Traditional approaches managing domains post M&A not only leads to complex infrastructure, but also increases security vulnerabilities in the organization due to multiple, disparate policies, with no central reporting on who has access to what set of resources. How does a cloud Identity & Access management help to achieve day one access to end users, while also securely moving off the perimeter based approach to secure access to corporate resources?

A: A cloud IAM solution can greatly assist users and administrators during the M&A process by delivering a centralized policy-driven identity view across the new merged company. With centralization comes consistency and with consistency comes the ability to identify in real-time policy anomalies or other potential security vulnerabilities that traditional non-cloud based IAM offerings often overlook. In this manner, a cloud IAM can improve digital agility during the M&A process by also reduce complexity and security risk by ensuring consistent policy-based identity across the organization.

Q: Multiple domains also means management of users across multiple forests and domains, both trusted and untrusted. By using a cloud identity and access management solution, how can companies simplify directory management?

A: Managing trust relationships across domains and forests is an administrative challenge that gets exacerbated during M&A activity. If the trust relationships are not properly managed, organizations expose themselves to security risks such as data loss. Relying on a cloud IAM solution minimizes the administrative issues associated with managing these domain trust issues across different organizational units and locations by providing administrators with a centralized view of all users and relationships in real-time.

Q: Allowing your user to stay productive post M&A is critical in retaining talent and driving revenue. What benefits does a cloud Identity & access management solution provide in ensuring that users always have access to all their applications, with no downtime?

A: M&A activity invariably increases employee anxiety as it relates to their job function and stability in the new organization. If not properly managed, disruptions during the M&A process can increase voluntary employee attrition which, in turn can delay or reduce the value projected from the planned merger. A key source of the disruption that can contribute to employee anxiety and attrition is retaining access to applications and systems post M&A. If users cannot access the information and systems required to do their job function, their job satisfaction will suffer and more importantly, customers may be affected if employees in customer-facing roles are unable to access the necessary systems to service customers. With a cloud IAM solution, organizations have centralized view over who has access to what before, during and after the M&A transaction. This minimizes employee frustration and keeps engagement and satisfaction high.

Q: Companies are undergoing M&A to acquire new users, products and services. How can companies use a cloud IAM solution to provide a single view of the customer and quickly integrate disparate customer-facing technology?

A: In many M&A transactions, customers may have accounts at both entities. The strategy behind the M&A transaction will usually dictate whether the new company will retain both accounts, merge them or possibly require the creation of a new account (especially if the new company has a new name/brand). In every case, a cloud based IAM solution can assist in the process either by merging accounts or by supporting SSO across separate accounts or helping migrating accounts to a new registration process. The cloud IAM solution helps automate and centralize the process to keep administrative costs in check, but also more importantly, ensures that customers do not experience any disruptions during the log-in process, which keep customer engagement and loyalty high.

Merritt Maxim’s analysis on how cloud IAM simplifies the process for both admins and end users is relevant to any organization undergoing M&A. In today’s competitive environment, the ability to acquire new products and services, plus secure market share through successfully executed mergers and acquisitions has become a key differentiator for companies. Okta is the industry’s leading cloud IAM solution – we recognize that Identity, and a modern, cloud based approach to identity and access management is fundamental to an organizations digital transformation.

Looking for more? Take a deeper dive in our on demand webinar, featuring guest speaker Merritt Maxim, to learn about avoiding domain consolidation and using IAM to simplify Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestitures. Access the webinar here.