The US economy is slowly gaining traction, but IT budgets are likely to remain flat or only have modest increases for the near term. As such, IT personnel will continue to look for ways to make the organization and infrastructure run more efficiently. CIOs will definitely focus on projects that provide a substantial return on investment and on high-visibility projects – those that have a significant impact on the most number of employees possible.
Given these projected outcomes and the stagnation of IT spending despite the possible need for doing so, below are several areas that will likely be of particular interest to technology and IT departments in business, government, education, and healthcare.
Employee Self Service
Any time a process is put in place that can eliminate calls to the help desk, it will result in a tremendous time savings. As such, the trend toward employee self-service will continue. HR departments started this trend decades ago when they allowed employees to look up benefits, remaining vacation time, and other repetitive tasks without contacting a representative. The trend is continuing in the IT group with tasks, such as password reset and requesting access to distribution list, network shares, and specific applications.
Self-service reset password applications have been around for several years now and continue to prove their value. Businesses and schools that have not already adopted this technology will do well to investigate adding it soon. Much like a banking website, end users enroll via a series of challenge questions and, should they forget their password, are able to reset directly from the network login screen or a website. This eliminates a call to the help desk and allows the employee to become productive immediately instead of waiting in the help desk phone queue. Two-factor authentication (2FA) enhances security in this area, as well. Delivery of a one-time use PIN code via SMS or email insures the person resetting the password is the actual employee.
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Another area of self-service involves employees who need access to distribution groups, network shares, or applications they currently cannot access. Normally this involves a phone call to the help desk or a paper process requiring multiple signatures that end up in the IT group. Using workflow processes, the employees can initiate the request from a web page on the company Intranet and, depending on the request, have it electronically routed to the individuals responsible for approval. In some scenarios, involvement from the IT department may not be necessary if an automated provisioning process is in place or may only need to perform the final step when notified via the workflow system.
As cloud solutions continue to gain traction in the corporate and education environments, being able to provision and de-provision accounts in a timely fashion becomes critical to controlling costs. While many companies have implemented identity management solutions for Active Directory, implementing a seamless process to these cloud applications can be a challenge. Though both Google and Microsoft, for example, offer tools to synchronize AD with their respective products, they reportedly fall short in many areas and can make account management a tedious chore.
Many vendors offer advanced tools to allow for painless synchronization and management of accounts in these, and many other, cloud applications. As most cloud solution providers invoice based on the number of active users in any given month, insuring that user accounts are decommissioned in a timely fashion can lead to incremental savings.
Security and Audit
As in past years, security of the network and providing accurate reporting to auditors will have a large impact on the IT department. Providing employees the access required to applications and network functional areas needed to perform their jobs, while insuring unnecessary accesses are never granted, will continue to occupy a large portion of IT resources. Identity and access management (IAM) providers will continue to enhance solutions to provide automated and seamless interfaces to the myriad of applications in an average organization, thereby reducing the overhead to maintain proper access rights.
Controlling the access rights properly when employees join an organization, change positions, or leave makes the audit process that much easier and insures compliance at all times. This will continue to be a driving force in the coming year, especially as the “bring your down device” (BYOD) concept surges.
By Dean Wiech, Managing Director, Tools4ever
Tools4ever distinguishes itself through a no nonsense approach and a low Total Cost of Ownership. In contrast to comparable Identity Management solutions, Tools4ever delivers a complete solution in just weeks rather than months or years. Thanks to this approach, Tools4ever is one of the largest vendors in IAM with more than 5 million managed user accounts. Tools4ever delivers a variety of software products and integrated consultancy services covering Identity Management and Access Management, such as User Provisioning, Password Management, and SSO.