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In this blog, Mark de Hullu, Sr. Sales Executive at iWelcome, shares his insights and experiences on digital transformation programs within large organisations and the importance of having a proper consumer IAM solution in place.
With a 20-year proven track record in IT, I’ve seen quite a lot of new developments, trends and hypes passing by. And for some years already, the buzz word ‘digital transformation’ comes along across every department I set foot at: from HQ management to local business representatives and IT departments. According to the vast majority of stakeholders, digital transformation is key for business growth and to remain competitive for the years ahead. Especially when it involves customers, as the bar for frictionless digital experiences has raised significantly over the past 5 years. New disruptive players as Uber, Apple and Facebook have set standards high for every (digital) enterprise that acts with customers nowadays.
For me personally, digital transformation is defined best as a business measure to eliminate manual processes as much as possible. For enterprises, this results in better customer experiences, an improved operational efficiency and more product and service innovation from within the organisation. In order to execute a successful digital transformation roadmap, significant amounts of time, investment, knowledge and expertise are required.
Back in the digital days, main focus points for enterprises were ‘app development’, ‘usability’ and ‘design of applications’ rather than elements as ‘integration’ and ‘security’. Lately, however, this focus is shifting as enterprises realise that, both from a functional and cost perspective, it is better to outsource certain elements than to develop everything in-house. An example – where I’ve been closely involved at – is granting users (i.e. consumers, employees and business customers) digital access to data, services and core infrastructure. This phenomenon is also known as Identity & Access Management or IAM. Where classic IAM mainly addressed employees and business customers, Consumer IAM (or: CIAM) is where the real magic happens!
As mentioned, the ease of access for consumers to these applications is a crucial element of digital transformation. And, especially for enterprises who’ve been around for some years, a central authentication mechanism is an important step towards a better understanding of their customers (or: consumers) allowing them to offer better services. We all recognise and personally probably dealt with multiple logins for different portals and applications at the same enterprise. As a consumer myself, I experience that a frictionless customer experience is an essential first step in establishing a relationship with whatever online enterprise. If that process isn’t convenient and hassle free, I tend to step out and look for alternatives.
With the right Consumer IAM tooling, enterprises onboard rich functionality and have standardised processes like registration, password reset, data management available, available out of the box and easily integrated into their core infrastructure. And especially with upcoming privacy regulations like GDPR, adding significant data and consumer privacy complexity to internal systems, these out of the box Consumer IAM solutions add significant value. For enterprises with pressure on budgets, an overbooked project calendar, limited available resources and a desire for quick time to market, partnering with a Consumer IAM solution is the obvious choice.
An enterprise’ IT landscape can be crowdy and complex, with scattered functionality over multiple dozens of applications. Downscaling the number of applications is often a desire, both from a cost and a complexity (maintenance) point of view. Understandably, of course, but a good check on the technical side of this ambition is essential. For instance, Consumer IAM solutions can be misused for storing transactional data which is not to be advised. While it might contribute to the ambition of downscaling, it is killing when it comes to business functionality and the desired data quality.
And finally, some free advice to enterprises on the verge (or in the midst) of digital translation: business alignment, to be supported by project governance with involvement from the right stakeholders, is underestimated but crucial for making your digital transformation into a success. Assigning an experienced enterprise architect, with business knowledge, for keeping a helicopter overview often proves highly valuable for your program.
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