Why IAM Drives Digital Transformation

July 6, 2016

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Gartner analyst Mary Ruddy and Ping's CTO Patrick Harding. This is the first of a four-part blog series where I'll be sharing their perspectives on digital transformation and the future of access management.


The comprehensive, 35-minute video interview covers a lot of ground and provides valuable expert insights into the role of identity and access management (IAM) in digital transformation. Throughout this blog series, I'll dig deeper into digital transformation as it relates to access for employees, customers and partners. But for starters, let's see how Mary and Patrick define digital transformation. Let's gain their insights into what it means for today's IT leaders, and how identity plays a role in the digital enterprise.


Mary explains digital transformation as creating new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds, and leveraging new technology like mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). With cloud, mobile and social driving the digital enterprise, she believes digital transformation allows you to create a flexible agile infrastructure so you can respond quickly to both threats and opportunities.


She goes on to say that as people increasingly expect to do almost everything from their phones and have unfettered access to social networks, they have and want more rich digital relationships. And with this comes both new opportunities and challenges--particularly security challenges.

Mary cites secure access as one of the limiting factors of digital transformation. As your organization takes on new users and new applications in new locations, you first need to put the tools in place--starting with new IAM tools--to enable secure access.


Once you do this, secure access goes from being a challenge to being a business enabler. Mary suggests that you should stop worrying about optimizing IAM costs and start using IAM to create more business value. With access secured, you can shift your focus to creating this business value and a better user experience.


To hear all of Mary's viewpoints, watch the video starting at 1:07.


When I posed the same questions to Patrick, his responses echoed Mary's. Citing recent GE television ads, Patrick believes that all companies today need to think of themselves as a software company. They have to rethink how they do business and how they can use software, digital and cloud-based technologies to reduce their costs and increase their top lines.


He used Netflix as an example, saying that they've transformed from being essentially a DVD distributor to a digital business that streams and generates content. Similarly, companies like tennis racquet manufacturers who used to do business primarily through retail distribution now have relationships directly with their customers, thanks to technological advances.


Patrick also agrees that cloud, mobile and social developments are trends in digital transformation. He believes that big data and the IoT are also driving the digital enterprise. From an architecture perspective, organizations are looking at a more distributed computing environment. And this is where secure access becomes challenging.


As you leverage different clouds, deploy applications on mobile devices and leverage social media services that you neither own nor control, you have to first determine how to maintain your security posture across these disparate technologies. Then you have to make the process user friendly. Secure access requires a paradigm shift. You need to provide all of these capabilities to your users, but you can't make it overly disruptive to them in the process.


Patrick discusses how to address secure access in different use cases and explains how secure access can go from business challenge to business enabler by providing an experience that end users enjoy--and want to continue using.


To hear Patrick's views, watch the video starting at 13:08.


When it comes to digital transformation, the experts agree that new technologies create new challenges. But they also create new opportunities to rethink how you work with your partners, how you engage with your customers, and how you enable your employees. I'll be sharing more expert views on these topics in the next blog in this series.


To learn more about digital transformation and opportunities your organization can grab, watch the complete video interview with Mary and Patrick. You can also check out what IT decision makers in various countries had to say about their digital transformation journey.