When Scaling IT, Knowing Where to Automate Is Key

Star Trek fans: It’s time for your IT department to boldly go where no IT department has gone before....

For years, the head of IT played the role of Scotty, the long-suffering engineer aboard Captain Kirk’s starship Enterprise. The job was to keep the engines running while the folks on the bridge came up with the strategy.

As today’s companies rely more than ever on technology, all that is changing. Instead of just keeping the servers running and the data flowing, IT is becoming a business enabler, helping to strategically define a company’s tech infrastructure and support high-priority business initiatives. Too often, however, the IT team do all this while troubleshooting tech issues across the organization. If it wants to do both, it must rethink its approach.

It’s not enough to work hard—work smart

This is an exciting time for IT, but it's also a challenging one. Onboarding new talent can help drive foundational change, but it's often difficult to find. Now that IT departments are busier than ever, they need all hands on deck—but they need experienced, highly-qualified hands, that know what they’re doing.

The numbers support this. In March 2018, research company Future Workplace teamed with training company Learning House to survey 600 HR executives in the US. Out of the respondents, 43% found that technology and IT roles were the hardest to fill, while 63% pointed to computer information systems as the most sought-after college major.

As they manage this transition, IT departments must be wise in how they use scarce resources. That means making smart decisions about where to invest in skills development, and where to use another key tool: automation.

Identity: The perfect candidate for automation

Identity functions are a great place for IT teams to start automating. While some organizations may try to manage this with proprietary software, implementing and managing an IAM platform in-house does not typically provide a competitive advantage. After all, managing identity in modern enterprises is a highly complex undertaking—and for IT teams, focusing on provisioning users, monitoring access, and centralizing user information can detract from other, mission-critical tasks.

Multiple apps and services make securing user access an intricate and time-consuming process. Lifecycle management requires IT to provision and delete accounts as users change their roles or join and leave the organization. Users also demand a frictionless login experience. IT departments must serve all these needs while providing the enhanced security that users demand. With the right tools, IT teams can automate a number of functions to help preserve their most valuable resource: time.

Provisioning users to access multiple systems and applications IT teams are often bogged down with provisioning requests, wasting valuable time creating and adding employees, partners, and contractors to new apps across the organization. As you add apps, this problem only gets worse, adding to the costs and time required to get each user properly onboarded to the systems they need.

With the proper lifecycle management software, IT teams can automate this provisioning process. Okta’s Lifecycle Management solution provides real-time user provisioning, triggered by your preferred HR system or application—so whether you’re using Workday, BambooHR, Netsuite, or a number of other systems, you can easily give employees the correct levels of access. Users can be provisioned “birthright” applications which consist of productivity and collaboration tools such as Office 365, Slack, Zoom and Box. Lifecycle Management enables your users with the tools they need to do their job on Day 1.

Assigning or reseting login credentials This one goes part and parcel with Lifecycle Management. Too often, IT teams lose valuable time assigning new login details to users as they’re added to new apps and systems. Thankfully, cloud solutions can mitigate this time investment by acting as a central hub for all your key information systems. With a single sign-on solution, users only have to enter one name and password to access multiple applications. With Okta’s Single Sign-On, for example, users log into Okta to gain access to all their necessary applications, taking the burden off the IT team to manually assign credentials for each and every new app.

In the event that a user forgets their password or locks themselves out, Okta allows those users to securely reset their passwords without having to waste time opening up an IT support ticket, waiting for a ticket to be assigned, and then finally being helped by the IT support team. Okta removes this arbitrary process and empowers users to help themselves by using Okta’s self service password reset functionality.

Centralizing user information from various sources As users add more and more tools to their arsenal, user information can become fragmented across systems. For IT teams, this can mean costly errors, duplicate profiles, and time sunk consolidating user information into a single, manageable system. Automating this process can take a massive burden off of IT teams, and help ensure that user information is always up-to-date, accurate, and centralized. Okta’s Universal Directory is an invaluable tool in this regard; by connecting to both on-prem and cloud directories, it helps to brings data directly from multiple sources to create a single source of truth.

By using identity and access management as a service, IT can stop squandering resources on complex, in-house projects to keep the engines running. Automation can help create much-needed room for tasks that align with the enterprise’s strategic goals—or in other words, to finally turn away from the engines and focus on the bridge. To quote Mr. Spock, anything else would be highly illogical.

Interested in learning more? Find out how Okta helps to automate identity management.