Changing the paradigm: How NTT Data puts identity at the center of its security promise
months to deploy
employee users across over 50 countries
monthly help desk tickets eliminated
- A global technology footprint
- Intricate identity challenges
- Aligning on values and growth potential
- A frictionless deployment
- Unparalleled security and efficiency
- Automated onboarding
NTT DATA is a top 10 global business and IT services provider operating in more than 50 countries. It combines deep industry expertise with applied innovations across a comprehensive portfolio of consulting, application, infrastructure and business process services. NTT DATA is a part of NTT Corporation, a partner to more than 85 percent of the Fortune Global 100. The company’s “One NTT” vision aims to enable the entire organization to operate with a unified approach.
Onboarding, role changes, and offboarding posed challenges with highly manual processes, and name conflicts were common in an organization of over 120,000 employees. NTT DATA needed to control risk in a more effective manner, implementing security in a seamless way to improve user experience and collaboration. To eliminate complexity and increase security, NTT DATA sought out an identity and access management (IAM) partner to help deliver standout service consistently for clients.
NTT DATA evaluated several IAM solutions, and even considered building its own, but ultimately chose Okta for its powerful agility and alignment around company values. NTT DATA knew Okta would enable it to streamline onboarding and resolve identity conflicts while also enhancing security.
NTT DATA deployed Okta to its global employees, implementing Single Sign-On (SSO) first to prioritize user experience. It only took two months to onboard nine critical applications, and the rollout was smooth from start to finish. Okta now serves as the front door to access NTT Data resources and makes risk assessment painless for the company’s users.
NTT DATA also deployed Okta Workflows to manage the employee lifecycle and integrated it with Office 365 to take the complexity out of identity creation. The company implemented a hub and spoke model, which includes one central engine that powers everything in its identity ecosystem.
Okta Workflows is key to powering the company’s entire onboarding flow, and has enabled NTT DATA to optimize costs by automating processes and focusing human resources on other initiatives. Okta Customer First partnered closely with the team throughout the deployment to help them learn faster and do more with the product.
NTT puts identity at the center of its security strategy
NTT DATA’s 120,000 employees span 50 countries worldwide, delivering infrastructure, applications, and business process services to clients. The Okta Identity Cloud enables NTT DATA to deliver a secure, cohesive user experience across its entire identity ecosystem.
“Okta helps us scale at the pace that we need to scale. As we add thousands of people to our business almost every year, and add new features, I need a partner who can do that with speed and agility. Okta is uniquely positioned to do that in our world.”
Steve Williams, Enterprise Chief Information Security Officer at NTT Data Services
- Frictionless single sign-on for optimal user experience
- Streamlined identity creation
- Flexible, dynamic risk management capabilities
- Automation that eliminates errors and makes compliance seamless
- Dedicated Okta support on-site at NTT DATA
Innovating toward unity
It’s evident why innovation is integral to NTT DATA—its parent company is nearly 120 years old and has evolved through shifts from the telegraph to the telephone to today’s digital landscape. One of NTT Corporation’s 900 companies around the globe, NTT DATA has a history of excellence in technology that dates back 50 years. The organization’s 120,000 employees span 50 countries worldwide, delivering infrastructure, applications, and business process services to clients.
“We have the privilege of working with 85% of the Fortune Global 100 across verticals from manufacturing to finance to healthcare, and solving the challenges they face to drive value to their businesses,” says Steve Williams, enterprise chief information security officer at NTT DATA Services.
Over the past 15 years, NTT DATA’s merger and acquisition strategy has driven a large part of the company’s growth, enabling it to bring new and influential products to market. With such a diverse portfolio, the need to reduce complexity and become “One NTT”. This initiative aims to construct a worldwide support structure to provide the company’s customers with access to more services and greater efficiencies. At the same time, digital transformation has prompted NTT DATA’s clients to think about their own competitive advantages in terms of data protection.
“Our clients tend to ask how technology can help them do something faster on a larger scale, or improve an experience for their end customer,” Williams says.
NTT DATA has also helped many clients transition to the cloud and reach their customers within a mobile ecosystem. As such, trust is integral to the company’s relationships with its clients.
“Our clients wouldn’t come knocking on our door if they didn’t trust what we do and how we approach solutions, and that we have their best interests in mind,” Williams says.
A massive database and complex authentication
To support the “One NTT” vision, NTT DATA needed to eliminate complexity and streamline operations. With 300,000 employees throughout 90 countries in the parent company’s sprawling database, name conflicts were common. Onboarding, role changes, and offboarding also posed challenges within NTT DATA’s, data-centric approach to security. The company needed to shift focus to identity in order to control risk in a more effective, automated manner.
“It was very hard to judge whether someone was the same Steve, or Betty, or Yin,” Williams says. “We needed help to look beyond traditional attributes and think about a digital birthright, so that we could make judgements that would otherwise be very challenging to make on name alone.”
NTT DATA’s identity and authentication challenges were exacerbated by the fact that almost 60% of the company’s staff works off-site on consulting assignments.
“Identity-centric processes were a significant pain point for our business,” Williams says. “We spent dozens of people’s time every week trying to solve challenges that we knew we needed to automate in a clean, consistent, repeatable fashion.”
NTT DATA’s prior technology solutions also caused user experience hurdles in instances such as communication with downstream apps. If a user experienced a problem, they would have to open a ticket or call the service desk, then wait several days for another team to review the ticket and resolve the issue. Authentication was also a disjointed process.
“Before, when we used the term single sign-on, that just meant you had to log in once to a web application. You’ve already logged into your desktop, now you have to log into your phone, then you have to log into this next thing. That’s not single sign-on to anybody,” Williams says.
A like-minded partner and an agile solution
NTT DATA’s partnerships play an important role in the company’s innovation strategy. Sound corporate citizenship is paramount to the organization, which is why its partnerships are driven by alignment around values.
“We’re looking to build long term relationships. If we share a common ethos towards solving a problem, that’s incredibly powerful,” Williams says. “But one company can't solve today’s problems, so we also need our partners to partner with other people.”
Flexible identity-related functionality was also high on NTT DATA’s checklist for an IAM partner. With multiple acquisitions per year, the company needed a solution that would enable it to advance faster and with greater agility than its previous identity framework. The organization also wanted to make security simple for its internal and external stakeholders, empowering them to focus on doing their jobs while automating tasks that were better suited to machines.
“My strategy for securing people is, ‘identity is the new perimeter,’ so I needed a digital ecosystem that would give us freedom to run the business while managing risk the way we needed to manage it,” Williams says. “Our digital universe has to communicate at wire speed and transact business in an automated fashion. I'm looking for my partners to move in the same direction at the same pace.”
NTT DATA evaluated several different technologies as part of its search for an IAM solution, and even considered the idea of building its own solution in its R&D lab.
“We chose Okta predominantly because of its flexibility, agility, and risk management. The other reason was because the Okta leadership team shares our ethos in terms of always striving to be better. A high level of trust was always there with Okta,” Williams says.
The company implemented Single Sign-On (SSO) first, because it wanted to prioritize user experience and enable stakeholders to get their work done in a seamless manner. It only took two months to onboard nine critical applications, and the rollout was smooth from start to finish.
When the organization deployed Okta Verify, a component of Adaptive MFA that required more advanced authentication, some change management was necessary to let stakeholders know that the user experience would be different. Not only was it easy to onboard them—they asked why the solution hadn’t been put in place sooner.
With the Okta Identity Cloud, employees have reliable access to all of the company’s web and mobile apps, improving productivity. Company applications are accessible from anywhere and authentication challenges are reduced, enabling users to be logged in and operational within seconds.
“Our uptime and availability over the past two years with Okta has been unparalleled. We've had no production outages or issues,” Williams says. “To have our technologies stay up and function the way we need them to on a 24/7 basis across 50+ countries—that's a massive win for us.”
The next phase of NTT DATA’s Okta journey was to automate processes and solve for complexity. The company implemented Okta Workflows and integrated it with Office 365 to take the complexity out of identity creation. NTT DATA deployed a hub and spoke model, which includes one central engine as the hub that powers the various Okta organizations in NTT DATA’s identity ecosystem. Each organization has its own spoke that connects to the central engine.
The central engine stores every identity ever created within NTT DATA, and applies a suffix to each to guarantee that no identity will conflict with another across the various spokes. This functionality eliminates manual processes associated with staff changes within the company. For example, if a new employee with the same first and last name as a current employee joined the organization, Workflows will recognize and address the situation so that each user has a unique email address and username, and a unique ID that will follow them for their entire lifetime at NTT DATA.
“Okta is currently deployed to nearly 120,000 users, and we’re continuing to expand that footprint,” Williams says. “When we're done with our hub and spoke architecture, it will probably be around 10 spokes, one centralized hub, and the Okta Workflows engine to orchestrate the automation between all of those pieces.”
Scalable, automated identity management
Okta Workflows helps NTT DATA improve both onboarding and offboarding, and is powered by integrations that make risk assessment painless for users. The central identity hub enables the company to respond to challenges such as identity conflicts, while also applying sophisticated automation and logic to attributes such as email addresses.
Workflows also allows NTT DATA to customize automation based on user type and geography, making regulatory compliance seamless and eliminating manual processing errors. This automation has driven cost optimization and allowed the company to focus human resources on other initiatives that can’t be automated.
“I can take a project that might have had 50 people associated with it, and bring it down to two, which has given me enormous efficiency gains,” Williams says. “For my team, the power comes in how they can automate simplistic tasks in a no-code style environment.”
Moving forward, NTT DATA will continue to save time on a massive scale with Workflows. Currently, seven departments and hundreds of people within the company are involved in HR-related activities. Now, processes such as granting access to retirement benefits will no longer be manual.
“Workflows is going to be a huge game changer for us. We’re really looking forward to having one orchestration engine drive the employee experience from start to finish, and seeing our employees have access to what they need post-retirement,” Williams says. “We want them to feel like everything is the same as it was on day one.”
A Zero Trust approach to security
“Okta is the center of our Zero Trust universe,” Williams says. “Today’s workforce is not doing work the same way they were yesterday. If we can build our knowledge of a person who is requesting access, and I can trust that knowledge, then I can make incredibly informed decisions. Okta does that better than anybody else I've seen.”
Okta’s ability to integrate with other solutions such as CrowdStrike, Proofpoint and Tanium also provides huge value to NTT DATA, and helps the company solve problems across a broader security ecosystem. These integrations enable the organization to assess and mitigate risks such as email compromise to make more informed decisions.
A dedicated partner with a customer-first philosophy
Not only has NTT DATA achieved success with the technological advances that Okta’s products facilitate—the partnership between the two companies is excellent. NTT DATA has a dedicated Okta customer success manager on-site to help solve problems in real time. The organization also worked with Okta’s Professional Services team to adopt Workflows. They partnered closely with the team throughout the deployment to help them learn faster and do more with the product.
“Okta’s Customer Success team is a huge part of why we've been able to move so fast. They’ve put in a lot of care, patience, and shared blood, sweat, and tears—exactly what I'm looking for in a partner,” Williams says.
Drafting a new security roadmap together
NTT DATA plans to use Okta to roll out a new project dubbed “The Journey Towards Passwordless”, which will include enabling Windows Hello on Windows laptops. The project will move the organization toward a more biometric approach that drives consistency between users’ mobile and desktop experiences.
Ultimately, Okta will continue to help NTT DATA scale at the pace that the business and broader industry requires. As the company adds thousands of contacts to its business almost every year, and adds new features, the need for a partner who can deliver on NTT DATA’s vision to prioritize user experience and make security invisible is paramount.
“In my world, a security roadmap is good for maybe the next two years. After that, you have to figure out what comes next,” Williams says. “Having partners like Okta, who understand that and who can help you push the boundaries of innovation, is huge.”
About NTT DATA Services
NTT DATA is a top 10 global business and IT services provider operating in more than 50 countries. It combines deep industry expertise with applied innovations across a comprehensive portfolio of consulting, application, infrastructure and business process services. NTT DATA is a part of NTT Corporation, a partner to more than 85 percent of the Fortune Global 100.