Organisations should push identity and access management up the business agenda
Organisations should push identity and access management up the business agenda
Digital business has transformed identity and access management (IAM) from a back office IT function into an important component of an organisation's digital strategy. An organisation's digital footprint now extends far beyond employees to partners, customers and devices. As a result, IAM is being used in supply chains, for the Internet of Things (IoT) and for digital service delivery to customers. 

Indeed, organisations that develop mature IAM capabilities can reduce their identity management costs and, more importantly, become significantly more agile in supporting new business initiatives. Yet, despite IAM's growing role in business outcomes, many IAM and IT leaders are struggling to position IAM as a strategic priority and business catalyst. 

A major issue here is that many IAM initiatives are at an early stage. This typically means that communication of results is informal; therefore recognition and adoption around the organisation is inconsistent. This makes it hard for IT leaders to present a solid business case for their IAM initiatives. Subsequently, they are unable to secure adequate resources and investment in IAM, which help organisations reach their objectives faster. 

IT and security leaders must elevate IAM out of the realm of IT, via a programme management approach, so it becomes a business-wide initiative. To justify and support the development of a formal IAM programme, IAM leaders need to assert themselves in digital transformation initiatives, such as customer service development and IoT. They also need to work closely with key stakeholders and executive management to demonstrate how the IAM programme relates directly to business outcomes. 

With this in mind, here are three steps that will help IAM and IT leaders build their IAM programme.

Enlist an executive sponsor
Few IAM leaders currently have the social capital or organisational recognition necessary to be an effective advocate for IAM and business alignment. To remedy this, identify a champion to promote and communicate the benefits of the IAM programme. A successful IAM programme begins at the top, so identifying the right business advocate to promote and sustain stakeholder interest in IAM is key to the success of the programme. Good candidates include the CEO, company secretary or chief legal counsel.

Collaborate to innovate
Collaboration with and interaction between the digital principals — marketers, architects, designers and developers — will expose the IAM team to new perspectives and mutually beneficial opportunities. By aligning with the digital business strategy, highlighting the impact of innovation and the shift away from operational thinking, IAM or IT leaders will be able to make a case for IAM staff to take on new responsibility and commitments.

Implement independent governance
Governance provides a programme with the responsibility and the authority to manage its constituent activities, and holds it accountable for the results. While it's important to determine how governance is approached in the wider organisation, recognising IAM as an independent IT governance discipline will ensure clear accountability and decision rights for IAM in the organisation.

Ultimately, IAM is a crucial undertaking for any organisation. It is increasingly business-aligned, and it requires business skills, not just technical expertise. That's why adopting a formal programme management approach can help IAM and IT leaders accelerate adoption of IAM capabilities and, consequently, enable organisations to quickly support new business initiatives without worrying about a lack of insight into the identity of things and people.

Contributed by Kevin Kampman, research director, Gartner

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.