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Making Identity Management More Consumer Friendly


By Andy Doyle | September 18, 2015

The IT Crowd’s most famous catchphrase is, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”.   These innocuous nine words resonate with IT staff and business users alike and captured the unfortunate-yet-common hate:hate relationship that often exists between them.

IT staff are under pressure to be innovative and keep the lights on at the same time, yet they are inundated with calls from frustrated users to reset passwords.  These IT users are under pressure themselves to “get the report out” and they can perceive IT as “getting in their way” with their draconian password policies that make them impossible to remember so they have to constantly call IT.

One of the most common complaints against IT is the length of time to set up a new hire and get them productive, and the most important part of new hire setup is providing the identity and access.

Consumerisation and Identity Management

Compare the IT Crowd scenario with the experience that everyone has these days of using cloud systems of some sort, whether Facebook, Twitter or Google Mail. User expect internal IT to “feel” the same as these public cloud systems and these is called “consumerisation of IT”.

Nowhere is this more important than identity management because we use our identities many times a day and they are core to business processes such as new hires, granting access to systems and providing auditing capabilities and self-service.

How does IT make identity management feel more familiar to the consumer?

Five Signatures of Great Identity Management

IT organisations that work hard to improve their user community’s day will have great identity management systems, because not only are these central to IT’s success they are also touched constantly by their users.  A poor Identity Management system will mean combined, IT Crowd-like pain for everyone.

The signatures of great identity management systems are:

  1. Self-service password reset: eliminates a lot of IT calls, none of which made anyone happy.
  2. Approval-based workflow: automated IT workflow, such as new hires, is a sign of mature identity management and keeps HR happy.
  3. Delegated control: let team managers give access to their team, and even delegate down to individuals to apply for access to systems (which then asks manager for approval).
  4. Broad access: the identity management system should be accessible from any application and any device, recognising the mobility of today’s workforce.
  5. Simplified management: you shouldn’t need to be a Microsoft MVP to manage identity, so make sure the entire system is easy to manage.

More advanced IT organisations will extend these five signatures with capabilities such as federated identities and single-sign on, making IT even more consumer-friendly and friction-free.

Further Reading - Active Directory Health Check Service  PNL Identity Management Solutions

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