Digital transformation

Remember the compact disc (CD)? I do. I must have been about 11 years old, when I won my first Hi-Fi stereo system in a local newspaper contest. It featured a CD player where you could see the shiny disc spinning through a window. My family didn’t have any CDs in yet, so I borrowed one from the neighbours and I remember the sound quality blowing my mind.

When I started driving, I wanted to listen to my favourite music on the road. All I had to do was: buy and download all of the songs, convert them to the proper format (mind the bitrate), copy the resulting files to a memory card and then insert that card into a slot in the glove compartment of my car. Dials on the dashboard allowed me to select songs from an alphabetically ordered list on a small screen. Just rinse and repeat this simple process if I wanted to add the latest new song or album I liked.

Today, all I have to do is ask my phone – connected to the car – to play any song I can think of.

This evolution captures digital transformation for me: getting things done as easy and seamlessly as possible while maintaining a quality experience. In other words, digital transformation for me is about removing friction. Note how many times the word “friction” comes up in talks and articles about digital transformation.

IAM - The cornerstone of digital transformation

“Why do you claim that Identity & Access Management (IAM) is the cornerstone of digital transformation?” you might wonder. I’m glad you asked, but it’s also fine if you didn’t.

The truth is that everyone does IAM; in a digital world, a digital identity is required to get digital services (that’s a lot of digital in one sentence).

The question then becomes : how frictionless are your IAM processes?

  • Are you still requiring your customers to fill out endless registration forms before they can complete their purchase on your webshop?
  • Is your helpdesk still taking password reset calls?
  • Is your IT department still manually setting up new Active Directory accounts for new employees?

Do you see how this is causing friction for your employees, partners and customers?

An IAM solution removes friction from these processes and is an integral part of your digital transformation program.

A few examples

Examples are plenty, I’ll give a few next.

Do you use your social media account on other websites? Sure. Why? Because it’s so much easier than to fill in yet another registration form and – God forbid – spend half an hour setting another password that must include numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters that you’re bound to forget but have to change every other day, only to find out that it was included in next week’s data breach. Apologies for the rant, but everybody hates passwords, right? Social login[1] can make your digital service that much easier to use and potentially increases the quality of your customer’s experience.

Do you know who we really want to save from entering usernames and passwords all day and night? Nurses, every time they move between patient rooms. But wait, you say, you can’t have my medical records exposed to everyone? No worries. What we did in already a fair amount of hospitals, is hook up a badge reader to every workstation so that when the nurse swipes her badge, her Windows session follows her. Clever, frictionless and secure, right?

Finally, there was the case of two companies (let’s call them X and Y) starting a joint-venture (let’s call it Z). Joint-venture Z uses a dedicated Office 365 environment. The requirement at the time was that employees be able to use their Active Directory account of company X or Y also work for Z. No new account should get created for Z, no switching between accounts. Sounds easy enough. Pulling it off wasn’t, but we did it. Friction avoided, quality service delivered. I am personally very proud of having designed that solution.

So let me wrap this up with the 5 top reasons why you should include Identity & Access Management in your digital transformation journey:

  • increase efficiency in speed by optimizing processes
  • optimize costs by automating processes
  • empower users with self-service capabilities
  • build trust by properly securing identity data
  • enable scale and interoperability by making use of open standards

[1] how the identity industry calls logging in with a social media account

Let's talk on how we can make IAM an enabler to your digital transformation journey

Robin Gorris

Managing partner & IAM Architect

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