Allergan grows through Open Science, Okta streamlines integrations and improves agility.



Mike Towers:  Allergan is pharmaceutical company. We have products in multiple therapeutic areas: women's health, medical aesthetics, dermatology, ophthalmology. The mission is improve life in whatever therapeutic areas that we have, find novel new medicines. We're roughly $15.5 billion in revenue, 17,000 employees, 100 countries. Being that we're an international company, we're very heavily regulated from a data privacy perspective, especially when you're dealing with personal information from not only our employees, but potentially our partners and our patients.

Any company of our size runs into risk with how we deal with our digital information. Most companies' business processes are very digital, just constantly exchanges, whether it's through email or collaboration or even some sort of system access. All of that puts Allergan's information at some level of risk. It's my job to work with the business to make sure what's an acceptable level of risk versus what needs more control and potentially more technology, more process, more policy. One of the biggest challenges in security is that you can have the best security control in the world, but if a) people aren't willing to use it, b) they actively try to get around it, or c) it just stops the business from functioning, that's not an adequate control.

Prior to Okta we had at least a half a dozen different identity and access management systems, one in the SAP space, one in the Windows space, one with how we interface with third parties. At least half a dozen, if not more, different ways to not only generate accounts, but also how to log in with them. That not only was a burden and confusing for the end user, but also made the control pieces and the security pieces on the back end very very difficult to do consistently.

We had a series of people and core partners in this ecosystem that we worked with to completely rebuild the identity and access management ecosystem and framework, and Okta is the cornerstone of that. Okta's primary security benefits are quite heavy, actually, and quite impactful. First and foremost is that it allows us to immediately translate an HR event into level of access that they have. If you change jobs or if your role is eliminated and you're terminated, the access downstream is changed accordingly. That happens almost automatically. Okta gives us a consistent way to do cross-company application access in an M&A scenario quite seamlessly with the same and a consistent control interface as well.

Okta is basically the bridge between who you are as an individual to what you need in the digital world. One of the things that excites me about the prospects of a technology partner like Okta is that they can take that power and that experience to it with more large companies and address ecosystem level problems across the entire industry in the identity and access management space. I think health care, specifically, I would say, probably unlike any other industry, has an extraordinary social responsibility aspect in terms of making people comfortable going to the doctor every day or going to the hospital, moving and having access to medical records. All of that could be enabled with better identity and access management, and there's been a lot of attempts to do that in the past. They've all failed. I think the timing is right to really pick that back up and do something, and I think a technology partner like Okta can definitely be a strong partner to make that happen.

Healthcare has a huge responsibility to keep patients comfortable in visiting doctors or accessing records. This is challenging for pharmaceutical businesses as huge as Allergan, who have to use multiple identity management and access systems. In revamping their HR framework, Okta’s user authentication technology proved to be the key cornerstone into streamlining all of their systems.