Facial recognition technology for industry worker showing digital transformation and identity management

The Rocky Road to Digital Transformation

There is no clear path for implementing a successful digital transformation strategy. Just as no two enterprises have the same IT infrastructure, each organization has its unique timeline and path to achieving digital transformation. In fact, according to a recent Gartner Peer Insights report, less than 4% of organizations have completed their transformation to the cloud, with 69% reporting they have started the implementation—and 26% have yet to start.

While a few organizations have experienced a smooth digital journey, the majority are faced with a rocky road littered with obstacles and pitfalls. Companies are unable to make a clean transition to a cloud-native state, leaving them juggling a hybrid infrastructure plagued with IT issues of the past. Although managing digital identity isn’t often regarded as a priority in an organization’s digital transformation journey, it is one of the most critical and challenging tasks.

Challenges to digital transformation

One of the biggest obstacles enterprises face during their digital transformation journey is operating in a hybrid model that maintains legacy systems while migrating to the cloud. The reality is that legacy technologies are of great importance to the enterprise. In the same Gartner Peer Insights research report, IT executives considered legacy technologies to be essential, with 68% rating it as very important.

A main issue with hybrid environments is the creation of multiple employee identity accounts that aren’t connected. Companies going through digital transformation need a solution that allows applications to connect to identity data in cloud repositories as well as in legacy, on-premise technologies. The goal is to save IT teams from spending countless hours working around rigid customizations and this requires the ability to manage, control and have visibility into identity data.

In an effort to solve this issue, organizations require an Identity Access Management (IAM) approach that integrates both legacy technologies and the cloud.

Managing identity data

Enterprises use various sources, formats and protocols to store identity data, making it impossible to get a comprehensive view of the essential identity information needed for security and business decisions. Additionally, it is extremely difficult for identity management systems to analyze which users should access corporate resources, data and information, without precise identity data about that user

Adding even more complexity, some admin accounts have excessive privileges and access to avoid time-consuming manual processes. This can be a nightmare as it increases the possibility of a successful attack by making it easier for threat actors to gain privileged system access. An attack on the admin accounts can go unnoticed for a longer duration if there are no tools to monitor in place.

Another significant roadblock to identity management is the increase in the number of identities linked to each business. In the Gartner Peer Insights research study, 60% of organizations reported having more than 21 identities per user. Creating accurate user profiles has become extremely difficult due to identity sprawl—the growth in the number of separate, incompatible and inaccessible accounts created by a user to access information.

The study uncovered that 67% of respondents knew they had identity sprawl, but they didn’t know how to fully address it. Additionally, 61% of respondents claimed that addressing identity management is too time consuming and costly to even begin.

Further, employees need to remember the login credentials for all of their different apps and tools that they use daily. This fragmented infrastructure not only causes irritation to the employees, but also increases exposure to security threats because they’re more likely to repeat passwords. Identity sprawl creates a larger attack surface; so firms that don’t manage this type of data are more prone to further data breaches.

To address this sprawl, organizations need an IAM solution that will bring all of a user’s identity data into a single profile.

The importance of identity data fabric in hybrid environments

With most organizations switching to hybrid working environments, it is essential for them to have an IAM system that can meet all their needs. They require systems that meet the demands of security, performance and scalability.

An identity data fabric gathers and analyzes scattered identity data from different sources and puts it into a single accessible source. This includes services, applications and identity solutions that provide access to governance as well as management. It provides a connective layer between all the different repositories of identity data and the user.

Applications can now connect to a single service that can be reused, both on premise and on the cloud, to deliver unified and normalized identity data as needed. Applications can delegate the grueling identity integration work and focus on the primary functions that they were created for.

An identity data fabric enables an organization to set various levels of permission for the employees. An employee can then only access the data that is relevant to them and not the entire data archive. This reduces the chance of a security breach from a potential unhappy employee and insider threats.

We’ve all heard that identity is the new perimeter, so having a strong hold on this data is paramount. For organizations going through digital transformation, it is key to understand that protecting identity data is synonymous with protecting your organization against breaches. Digital transformation can be a rewarding challenge if identity data is managed efficiently.