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Working in Higher Ed? Learn How to Transform Efficiencies + Security

Kelsey Nelson Product Marketing Manager Okta
Kelsey Nelson
Product Marketing Manager

Higher education today faces many pressures to transform. Significant budget and financial constraints are driving colleges and universities to reduce costs and find more efficiencies. Incoming waves of digital-native students (and the growing competition to attract them) continually propel expectations for more modern online experiences. Unrelenting security threats and phishing attacks keep cybersecurity top of mind. Traditional, home-grown approaches to IT increasingly struggle to meet the demands of today’s cloud-dominated digital world.

As a result, university and college administrators acknowledge the imperative to modernize, and many now look to their IT teams to find needed efficiencies, reduce costs, improve security, deliver better customer experiences, and, ultimately, contribute to student success. So how can higher education IT respond to all of these pressures? Read on to learn the 3 key ways to tackle these issues.

1. Consolidate complex campus identity systems

The relationships between colleges/universities and their students and staff are complex and dynamic. Students can be many things: recruiters for prospects, full-time or part-time, presenting themselves online or in-person. They can be employees or semi-employees (such as in work-study programs), tutors, assistant professors, and residential assistants; and, of course, they can be alumni and donors. Likewise, faculty, administrators, and staff also can have shifting roles within the organization. These multi-varied and dynamic roles are highly consequential for things like identity and access management, security, student experience, and service delivery.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that the status of this population is rarely static—it’s constantly changing. The only effective way to manage them all effectively is to create a comprehensive single view of all stakeholder identities, their passwords, and their access privileges. This view must be  scalable, dynamic (i.e., adjustable as their status changes), and universal (so it can automatically manage their access to any application or system). This is what Okta excels at: we provide enterprises a single platform that automatically manages user identities and access to any application, whether its on premises or in the cloud.

2. Automate manual tasks, from cloud to ground

To keep up with the modern innovations that are transforming higher education, most learning institutions recognize that they must move more of their on-prem operations to the cloud. As they do this, they need a way to efficiently and effectively manage all of these new systems, as well as the end user identities and access controls for apps, whether in the cloud or on-prem. Okta has thousands of pre-built integrations to the key services that institutions are looking to adopt, such as Ellucian, G Suite, Office 365, Blackboard, Workday, Canvas and more.

Our robust automated features free IT staff to do more important things than manually provisioning and enabling end user apps and directories. Okta’s identity and access management can help eliminate manual processes like onboarding/offboarding. A key example is the aforementioned student lifecycle. As students advance and change their circumstances (from recruiting candidate, to freshman, to work study program, to graduate, to alumni), these changes can be automated throughout. Okta also enables IT to offer self-service password reset functionality, letting IT move away from time consuming and often error-prone manual processes, and instead spend their time on more high value projects, such as delivering better experiences to students and staff.

3. Enhance its security posture across the institution

The cybersecurity struggle for learning institutions lies in the balance between access to all staff and students versus an impenetrable security system. That’s a difficult task, as today’s typical institution offers between 200 and 500 different apps for these stakeholder communities.

Okta ensures that university and college stakeholders only have access to the applications they need. And that, when necessary, they are automatically required to set up an authentication factor (via multi-factor authentication) before authorizing access. For example, when the context around a user’s authentication attempt changes — indicated by changes in geography, device, and network, for example — Okta can request a second factor authentication before granting access. Alternately, if Okta detects more typical behavior patterns, administrators can choose to enable a passwordless experience, thus making security seamless and as simple as possible for end users. Okta also enables institutions to use the factors that work best for their institution, from SMS to built-in authenticators like TouchID and Windows Hello via WebAuthn.

Educational institutions are charged with some of the most important work in the world: inspiring and teaching the next generation of leaders. Great missions deserve the best technology—that’s why Okta has invested in making our industry-leading identity solution accessible to all schools and universities.

If you plan to attend EDUCAUSE 2019 next week, stop by the Okta booth #406 to explore how we can help your institution to automate student user management and protect your campus against cyberattacks. We would also be happy to sign you up for a customized demo! To learn more about Okta for education and our special pricing for educational institutions, visit our higher education website.

Kelsey Nelson headshot
Kelsey Nelson
Product Marketing Manager

Kelsey Nelson is a Product Marketing Manager at Okta, focused on security solutions such as getting beyond the buzzword of ‘Zero Trust’. Prior to joining Okta, she led product and business communications at tech startups varying from enterprise software to edtech to consumer music hardware at San Francisco agency LaunchSquad, and prior to that taught secondary school history and English. Today she lives in San Francisco, though will always call Wisconsin home.

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