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Where does the digital transformation nightmare end? Right here, right now

May 2018 by Stuart Sharp, Global Director of Solutions Engineering at OneLogin

Businesses the world over are faced with the mammoth challenge of digital transformation, a much over-hyped buzzword which essentially encourages businesses to continue to innovate in line with the increasing global adoption of cloud IT services. With this hype, enterprises have found themselves caught in a battle to become more agile against their competitors or face extinction. As a result, over two-thirds of enterprises expect to deploy up to 100 new commercial cloud apps - also known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) - and on-premise apps in the next twelve months alone, according to our recent research.

To tackle this ever-growing issue head-on, our study revealed that 92% of UK enterprises have developed a digital transformation strategy to manage the overwhelming pace of innovative technology. However, the tsunami of SaaS applications, on top of legacy IT and on-premise applications, has turned corporate networks into a heterogeneous nightmare for IT managers to oversee. Soon, if it hasn’t happened already, corporate networks will become too complex further expose enterprises to cyber threats. This is a fundamental challenge in the journey to a more digital world – navigating and securing the digital network across a combination of platforms.

Managing the SaaS Tsunami

On top of the flood of SaaS apps that IT is aware of, a high-percentage of apps being used have gone under the radar without IT’s prior approval. Known as Shadow IT, the uncontrolled growth of unsanctioned IT makes the whole process of trying to get the flood waters under control even harder.

To manage the threats that SaaS apps and Shadow IT present, organisations must put a strategy in place which should encompass the five following areas:
1. Follow the money - When an employee subscribes to a SaaS application it is more than likely they will claim it back under expenses. Liaise with your finance department to create a SaaS subscription expense category to trace the money.
2. Integrate into the on-boarding process - It is advisable to collaborate closely with HR so that new employees are encouraged during the on-boarding process to tell IT of any SaaS applications they need to do their job.
3. Enforce Single Sign-On and strong authentication - A major reason IT departments incorporate SaaS apps in an identity as a service (IDaaS) catalogue is to ensure that security policies for passwords and multi-factor authentication are applied. If you do not know about an app being used it will not be subject to your IDaaS vendor’s login process and password management policies, and thus will have weak authentication that carries security risks.
4. Track application usage by former employees - Businesses must ensure that employees are off-boarded once they leave the company and should double check that former employees are not continuing to use company apps. Start with the most commonly used applications and work your way down. Another strategy is to connect your IDaaS to your Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system, such as Splunk, to regularly search for application logins from former employee accounts.
5. Implement app control - Have a policy and stick to it. Set the criteria within each department of what they deem to be a ‘banned app’. This will vary between departments and it can be a nuanced decision based on risk, permission, how business-critical an app is, whether there are any safe alternatives and many other factors. Set it. Stick to it.

Barriers to digital transformation

Currently, to help manage the disjointed corners of corporate networks and the deluge of SaaS applications, 90% of enterprise IT decision makers see Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions as key to their digital transformation strategies. Yet, as they stand, current solutions are falling short of truly unifying the modern corporate network and as a result, hindering digital transformation strategies. The major pain points for existing IAM solutions were highlighted as cost (43%), complexity (45%) and fragmented access control for multiple environments (22%).
Similar to these challenges with their existing infrastructure, UK enterprise IT decision makers must also fight against barriers to digital transformation including the fear of spiralling costs (40%), integrating legacy systems (46%) and project complexity (37%).
Without an answer to these challenges, businesses will quickly find themselves falling behind their competitors.

Goodbye IAM, Hello UAM

To make sense of the nightmare that digital transformation presents, enterprises need IAM to progress. There is clear demand for a solution that supports every end-point of the complex corporate network, regardless of whether it’s cloud-based or on-prem.

Never has it been more critical — or more complex — to securely manage access across the explosion of distributed applications, data, and intelligence. Enterprises need to tackle this issue head-on and unify the corporate network through one single IAM solution. IT teams need the ability to manage access for traditional on-premise and cloud applications simultaneously through a “single pane” management console purpose-built for hybrid customer environments. Historically, a customer’s only option was building a cumbersome, multi-vendor, prohibitively expensive solution.

A single Unified Access Management platform allows companies to modify access privileges across all applications in real time vs. days or weeks, and slash access management costs by 50% or more — that’s the power of UAM. In turn, this unifies access management not only for applications on multi-platforms, but also networks and devices, using SaaS infrastructure to synchronise all corporate users and user directories. By unifying all corners of the corporate network through one platform, organisations of any size can finally align their platforms with digital transformation strategies, providing a major competitive advantage.




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