Seven ways to make your digital identity strategy effective

Over the years digital identities have gone mainstream. This is due to the increasing number of data breaches experienced by companies the world over. 

These breaches often lie on the back of weak digital identity security as well as the emergence of digital transformation programs within organisations. 

This conversation has put identity and access management on top of the priority list both as a business enabler and a significant organisational risk.

It is imperative that every organisation has a digital identity strategy, but how do you make it effective given the complexity and high stakes involved? 

  1. Start with a vision

Identity and access management is no longer just an IT or security function, it is a business enabler. 

As IAM continues to grow in the areas of mobile biometrics, Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) and Internet of Things, it becomes more important to set up a vision of how IAM will enable the organisation to become more profitable, efficient and competitive.

Building a vision requires engagement with key organisational stakeholders. You can do this through interviews and workshops to gain a shared understanding of the IAM journey. 

This engagement through interviews not only allows IAM leaders to build political capital but helps in aligning with the next steps in deploying your digital identity strategy. 

2. Leadership Support

IAM is complex and time-consuming. Your digital identity strategy will lead to changes in organisational business processes, and it will fundamentally change the way your workforce, customers and suppliers engage with your organisation.

This kind of change needs to have leadership support in order for it to be effective. 

As digital identities are gaining more presence at a board level, thanks to a number of bigger data breaches and the onset of the European Union general data protection regulation (GDPR), it’s definitely best to get support for your strategy from this level. 

It’s important to identify the right advocate or champion to stand behind your digital identity strategy. For this role, it would be best to get leaders that have social and political capital within your organisation, and the ability to communicate well with various stakeholders.

3. Align IAM with Business Objectives

As digital identities become more pervasive and IAM becomes a business enabler that can shape the competitiveness and efficiency of your organisation, aligning IAM objectives with business objectives becomes more vital. 

During the vision building process, your IAM leader would need to understand where the organisation is going and the pain points that your stakeholders have. 

IAM is no longer an IT support function, it is a business enabler and as such complete alignment with your business is crucial. 

The failure of digital identity strategies is more often than not, caused by a misalignment between business objectives and IAM objectives. It is important to highlight to all stakeholders how IAM will make your business better and not only secure. 

4. It’s a program, not a project

A common mistake that organisations make is treating IAM as a project and not as a program. Your digital identity strategy should be framed as an IAM program from the very beginning and not as a project. 

IAM is to be deployed as a program with strong executive support. 

It’s important to note that it will take years to roll your digital identity strategy out. if it is framed as a project you will soon get to the end of the road in terms of leadership support and organisational willingness to comply. 

Your IAM program will comprise of practices, processes and technologies that are meant to manage digital identities and more importantly provide a formal governance framework to coordinate these functions.

5.Communication is vital

IAM programs are complex multiyear initiatives and IAM leaders, who are often technical experts may be tempted to put their heads down and continue with work as usual.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the IAM work happens in the background with minimum business visibility. This often leads to the rest of the organisation getting out of touch with your IAM program and its benefits.  It’s important for your IAM leaders to formalise a communication plan as part of their digital identity strategy. 

Constant communication and feedback on metrics will keep the rhythm and momentum of your digital identity strategy.

6. Adopt a good IAM program framework

IAM leaders are often reactive in the way that they roll out their digital identity strategy. This reactive approach can lead to inconsistencies, overlaps, incomplete initiatives and activities.

As already mentioned, IAM is a program and not a project, therefore, adopting a good IAM program is a key step to rolling out an effective digital identity strategy. 

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here, a good, solid framework will provide structure, coordinate technology projects, ensure alignment with the business and provide, through governance and management. 

7. Don’t forget the users 

IAM leaders are often enthralled by technology and forget their users. IAM is an enabler can make the user experience very enjoyable or it can make it cumbersome – the difference often lies whether the users have been consistently engaged in the development and deployment of your IAM program. 

On a regular basis, we visit customers who have an IAM program that is stalled or no longer in use because their users were not happy. The cause is often a lack of involvement right from the start. Your users should be your closest ally, as they understand your organisational requirements from an operational perspective and have the ability to make your program fly…or not.

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A cybersecurity expert dedicated to protecting organisations against the digital risks associated with digital transformation.

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