To succeed in the digital economy, organizations need to make smart technology investments. The workforce uses an ever-growing number enterprise apps, which only increases the need for organizations to properly manage access across these systems. This is where Identity and Access Management (IAM) comes in—but many organizations may not be sure where to start.
What Are the Benefits of IAM?
There are several benefits organizations gain by investing in IAM solutions. First and foremost, an enterprise IAM solution strengthens the security of your IT environment through improved visibility and password protection mechanisms like Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). It also helps your IT department track and manage who is accessing apps and data and streamlines their efficiency as they can rapidly manage user access while spending less time dealing with helpdesk calls.
An effective IAM implementation also elevates the user and customer experience. Not only do products like Single Sign-On (SSO) provide users with a seamless login experience to multiple applications, but thanks to the centralized storage of user identities and automated Lifecycle Management, users can access the right applications and services without the need for manual intervention from IT teams.
Investing in IAM Requires a Strategy
Implementing an IAM solution requires planning and strategic focus. You need to make sure it’s usable, secure, easy to automate and cost-effective. It’s best to do a complete audit of existing systems and decide which to integrate and which data sources are authoritative. You also should take into account how your implementation meets compliance obligations and impacts your existing operations.
IAM is an implementation framework—a structure which organizes identity related to your systems, policies, applications, and other organizational services. Different stakeholders only consume the relevant parts of the framework they need. IT operations use it to see how they need to perform their essential identity administration duties; app developers use it to adhere to secure IAM development practices; compliance managers set and revise policies; and the CIOs and CISOs oversee the implementation and budget.
IAM investment requires that business leaders buy into the benefits of IAM, define its requirements from a business perspective, and promote the implementation and use of the solution. Naturally, the support of the C-Suite is needed to achieve success, but the input of business leaders across departments is instrumental in ensuring an IAM investment achieves its goals. For example, marketing is needed to provide input on the customer experience, and HR is essential in identifying authoritative data sources that hold identity.
Implementing an IAM Framework
Implementing an IAM framework is an iterative process. As with any system implementation, several steps need to be followed to ensure success.
First, assess the current state of the enterprise identity environment. This step is as much about analyzing the business requirements as it is about assessing existing systems.
Next, involve the relevant stakeholders. It’s imperative to listen to the needs and opinions of business users and not push an agenda based on a preconceived idea of what an IT department needs. As always, the primary goal is to solve business challenges. The objective should be to extract the current identity pain points, so that you can invest in solutions specific to your business challenges.
Once you’ve done this, confirm the scope and agree on key metrics. After signing off on the scope and success metrics, the project team can then formulate a project plan and create the comprehensive roadmap needed for the entire implementation.
When tackling an IAM project, it’s essential to take an incremental approach and not attempt to implement the entire solution in a single phase. Cutting the scope into manageable stages increases the chances for success and has less of an impact on day-to-day operations. Of course, the ability to quickly deploy new services is still important—as long as it’s done right. Okta’s rapid deployment strikes this balance thanks to its ease of integration across many applications and a robust infrastructure that is less prone to disruption.
Invest with the Future in Mind
IAM is a crucial element needed to manage access for the complex, distributed organizations—but systems cannot remain static, and IAM solutions need to adapt accordingly. You can reap huge time and cost benefits by adopting the right IAM solution that can scale alongside your organization and integrate with the services and apps you need to continue meeting your business goals.