CIOs have a complex role. First, they have to lead the charge in modernizing their organization. This means listening and reacting to the ongoing demands from employees, contractors, and customers, all of which have become accustomed to agile, cloud-based applications that they can access from various devices. Second, they are often tasked with lowering the cost of the organization’s operations and improving security.
Unfortunately, those two mandates don’t always go hand in hand. Deloitte’s 2017 CIO survey showed us that 70% of CIOs are expected to drive efficiencies in their organization, but the slow transition from legacy, on-premises technology to the cloud makes it difficult for CIO’s to achieve this goal.
Because the transition is so gradual, companies are implementing hybrid cloud environments where some applications and systems are cloud-based, and others are on-premises. With the rise of hybrid cloud infrastructure, the critical task of managing user access is becoming more difficult. In part, this is because the growing number of enterprise applications means that users have to be granted access to various tools in order to do their jobs. On top of that, users can now access systems from multiple locations and devices that aren’t owned or controlled by the organization. In order to effectively deliver on this task and still meet the expectations of the broader executive team, CIOs need to incorporate a robust lifecycle management process.
The perils of legacy processes
Today, as users progress through the employee lifecycle, the applications they need—and their level of access—often changes. This is also true for third-party vendors, contractors, and partners, which have their own set of access requirements for the period in which they work with an organization.
In companies where these changes are all handled manually through email, support tickets, and spreadsheets, HR and IT spend significant amounts of time on non-core tasks. Added to that, there is a high propensity for errors that can slow down the process of employees getting access to the tools they need.
Manual lifecycle management processes can also lead to delays in offboarding users—which poses a substantial security risk and, if you operate within a highly regulated industry, might leave you out of compliance. If employees or contractors aren’t properly offboarded upon leaving a company, users that shouldn’t have access to the organization’s applications will still be able to log in. Unfortunately, bad actors or disgruntled employees could take advantage of this security vulnerability.
As companies move to the cloud, the lifecycle management process can become even more complex, as there are more applications, devices, and locations for IT to manage as they onboard and offboard staff and third-party providers. Since most IT teams rely on heavily manual processes to manage the employee and contractor lifecycle, they are ill-prepared to handle this transition.
Lifecycle management simplifies hybrid cloud adoption
To address these challenges, organizations can turn to automated solutions for managing user lifecycles. This lowers the complexity of managing separate, varied provisioning and authentication policies that span their on-prem and cloud resources. These solutions maintain the lifecycle of a user from the moment they are onboarded, through any role changes that may occur during their employment, up to their termination.
Best in class lifecycle management is an automated, policy-driven, contextual approach that can handle access provisioning across a growing organization’s employees and external users.
It provides IT with a range of tools that enhance their identity management processes, including:
- A centralized view into which users have access to which resources
- Built-in best practices that ensure IT automation, as well as a frictionless and intuitive user experience
- Extensibility to any application on any device
- One source of truth for users, groups, and devices
- The ability to create self-service flows for access requests that bypass the IT helpdesk
This way, as organizations make their transition to the cloud, they can also optimize their IT team’s performance in managing identities, making them more available to focus on their core competencies—such as innovating on solutions and developing the organization’s IT stack.
Where companies stand to win
Implementing automated lifecycle management tools plays a vital role in protecting and enhancing any forward-thinking business. They ultimately help reduce complexities and costs and enhance security by automatically offboarding employees.
The benefits for automating lifecycle management can be felt across an organization. For CIOs, it offers an opportunity to meet their goal of lowering operational costs while also improving service levels. More broadly, as enterprise cloud adoption continues to gain momentum, businesses need to be able to securely embrace the cloud by mitigating the emerging risks from identity attacks.
For more information on how to implement effective identity management as you move to the cloud, read our series.