Understanding IAM and its role in your digital transformation

Establishing an individual’s identity has always been an intrinsic part of carving a personal footprint among the multitudes. Today, understanding the roles and responsibilities of individuals in the workplace is an integral part of mapping identities and access management to safeguard business assets and pave the way for seamless processes, secure authorizations and faster digital transformation.

Identity is widely considered to be the new perimeter — a clear definition of who’s who in an organization, and the roles each individual plays. It follows that Identity and Access Management (IAM) is core to any organization’s modern security strategy based on zero trust, where the organization can focus on protecting their users, applications, systems and business. In addition to the role IAM plays in implementing security controls and in threat detection, it is also key to a digital transformation strategy for the internal workforce as well as for customers, by enabling business processes and providing a modern immersive user experience.

Securing a post-pandemic virtual workplace

In the digital workplace, the focus is on creating positive employee experiences to help organizations attract and retain the brightest talent, and to maximize their productivity without compromising the security posture of the organization. The post-pandemic virtual workplace introduces new challenges but also ushers in new opportunities to improve this experience.

Consider this. A manager may not be in the office or even at their desk. However, she/he can take out a smartphone and quickly approve a pending request, that is holding up access and blocking a critical activity. Alternately, machine learning and analytics may determine that the request is low risk and does not require a manual approval at all.

60-80% reduction in manager time spent during certifications

50-70% reduction in onboarding time resulting in faster access to resources

An improved customer experience based on trust

Customer experience begins with establishing the customer’s relationship with the organization. It continues with every interaction throughout the lifecycle of that relationship.

Customers should feel like every interaction is a personal experience, unique to them. If a customer’s journey spans across multiple applications, this level of seamless personalization relies heavily on the identity infrastructure, and can be even more challenging when the contact is digital and not face-to-face.

In addition to a seamless user experience, maintaining privacy of the customer’s personal information is imperative, in order for them to maintain a level of trust in the organization. Now, trust is essential in both directions. Advances in identity proofing and authentication technologies can provide the assurance that the customer is a real person, and is who they say they are before allowing them to open an account and complete a transaction.

Leaders in customer experience outperform the market 27%

Transforming the IAM ecosystem

Here are a few ways in which the IAM ecosystem can be transformed to deliver a more tangible and positive user experience.

Simplify the ecosystem

A complex system or one that includes manual processes will be slower and prone to error, unable to quickly adapt with the business. In contrast, a simplified one will be easy to implement and operate.

Automate, automate, automate

Automation is critical, both in terms of configuration management, as well as automating the IAM processes themselves.

Incorporate machine learning (ML)

ML should be built into the IAM system from the ground up to make the system’s business processes more dynamic. This can maximize the automation that can be achieved, and boost visibility into user behavior.

Enable frictionless access

Authentication and authorization must be adaptive and take numerous factors into consideration. This may include the device a user is using, where the user is connecting from, what they are trying to access, as well as other real-time risk factors. If the context or risk changes, access must be re-evaluated. A core tenet of zero trust calls for a re-evaluation of every request. It is essential that this re-evaluation does not add friction and, where possible, is transparent to the user.

Instill confidence, caution, and security

The IAM ecosystem must know, with a reasonable degree of confidence for the application, that the user is who they say they are. Identity proofing is a critical component of an IAM ecosystem, especially when organizations are hiring employees without an in-person verification, and customers are signing up to do business entirely virtually.

Change the notion of user

The user associated with an identity may be an employee, a third-party partner or contractor, a customer, an application, or even a thing. This significantly changes the requirements around scalability, reliability, performance, and even privacy.

IAM has come a long way from its beginnings as a discretionary service to provide basic provisioning features, keep a few systems in sync with user information and provide basic authentication. In the digitally transformed world, IAM is critical to realizing the benefits associated with a digitally-transformed workplace and application environment. Identity is the key to do all this in a secure manner.

About the author

Allen Moffett

Allen Moffett

Global IAM Practice Lead & CTO

Allen Moffett is Global IAM Practice lead and CTO at ATOS. He is also the global lead for the IAM and Biometrics sub-domain of the ATOS expert community, helping to steer business strategy and building the technology roadmap by anticipating the products and services that will be needed by the market. He also is member of the Executive Advisory board of the Identity Defined Security alliance.

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