Identity and Access Management in the age of Bimodal IT

An important new practice that has emerged over the past few years in IT management is Bimodal IT, defined by Gartner as the practice of managing two separate but coherent styles of work: one focused on predictability; the other on exploration.

While the application of the Bimodal concept within an enterprise has been the subject of much discussion, employing these two modes of management in the context of Identity and Access Management has not.

Here’s our take on how the Bimodal concept fits into our scheme of things as an Identity and Access Management solution provider.

Mode 1

By the standard definition of Bimodal IT, the focus of Mode 1 is on ensuring that existing applications and business functions are kept running smoothly. Therefore, Mode 1 clearly prioritizes stability over innovation.

In the context of IAM, businesses are becoming increasingly complex in the digital age, with touchpoints and interactions with increasingly large numbers of people or users, both within and outside the organization. 

Managing this change requires IAMs to undertake a gradual evolution towards becoming simpler and more scalable. A good example of this would be the need to build in the ability to automate decision-making for setting access rules and permissions based on dynamically collected information on users, from multiple sources.

This evolutionary approach is important to ensure continued forward movement, embracing new practices and technologies, while continuing to place primary emphasis on seamless operations.

Mode 2

Mode 2 in Bimodal IT, on the other hand, places its focus squarely on innovation. In Mode 2, the priority is to undertake larger, but less certain, leaps forward, to enable the existence of entirely new business processes and approaches. 

To look at the Identity and Access Management universe, in Mode 2, the mandate would be to build the next, future-ready new IAM platform. This could involve the development of an all-new, simpler and more scalable architecture from scratch, or incorporating increased agility to adapt to a fast evolving environment, for example.

Mode 2 involves planning and building for scenarios and use-cases that go beyond what conventional thinking can conceive of, to drive the next big change. But with this focus on innovation comes a need to accept some risk as well.

Akku is an enterprise IAM solution, and our journey to get here has involved adopting different facets of Bimodal IT. This process has helped us build a platform that delivers solutions to a range of use-cases that few others can match, and to do it reliably and seamlessly. Talk to us today to see how Akku could enable identity and access management, and more, at your organization.

IAM as the Solution to Healthcare Sector Challenges

Healthcare organizations are unique in the volume and sensitivity of information that they hold. Reports say that healthcare is among the 5 most cyber-attacked industries over the past 5 years. 

The 2020 Breach Barometer published by Protenus reports that in 2019, more than 41 million patient records were breached, and around 40% of the respondents surveyed in Europe and the U.S. were concerned hackers would breach their digital data.

The importance of bolstering cloud security in such an environment is therefore vital, and deploying an Identity and Access Management (IAM) system can play an important role in this process.

Here is a look at some of the key challenges facing the healthcare sector, and how an IAM could help to overcome them.

#Challenge 1: Enabling easy but secure access

Very often, breaches of patient data occur due to a lack of caution on the part of patients themselves, with the use of easily compromised passwords. This applies equally to healthcare providers too, with the need to access multiple applications, and therefore, the need to memorize multiple passwords.

The IAM Solution: 

Enforcing a strong password policy can help ensure that patients and providers alike set strong passwords that are more difficult to breach. Additionally, by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA), an additional layer of security is added above the password. And to make things easier for providers, bringing all applications onto a single platform to provide them with a single point of access means that just one set of credentials is all that they need to remember.

# Challenge 2: Compliance with regulations

Healthcare is a highly monitored industry and there are certain established regulations to follow. For instance, in the USA you have the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as newer industry-specific regulations like Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS), for which compliance is non-negotiable.

These newer regulations call for adherence to certain prescribed standards of data security along with detailed audit capabilities.

The IAM Solution:

With an appropriate IAM solution, compliance requirements can be largely met through strong data encryption, implementing standards-compliant password policies across users, providing only the minimum necessary access to users, and comprehensive logging of every user action across applications and data points.

# Challenge 3: Driving digital transformation

COVID-19 has accelerated the speed of digital transformation, with the healthcare sector right at the center of the revolution. Telemedicine, Patient Access Management, and a host of other new requirements, each need control over a number of identities and access entitlements. 

The healthcare industry is under growing pressure to adapt to changing business models and technology innovation, as there is an ever-increasing need to protect access to sensitive data.

The IAM Solution:

With features like single sign-on, IAM offers an integrated approach to patient care, enforcing security and compliance capabilities to increase efficiency. In order to support the new digital-first world of healthcare, therefore, IAM has become a necessity rather than an add-on.

Clearly, IAM is the need of the hour in the healthcare industry. And Akku, the powerful and flexible enterprise cloud control solution created by CloudNow helps to facilitate identity and access management across your healthcare enterprise’s cloud environment. Talk to us today to discuss how Akku may be able to help with your compliance requirements.

Is dependence on AD holding back your provisioning & deprovisioning?

Active Directory is quite simply the most popular identity management solution for enterprises in the world. An incredible ~90% of the Global Fortune 1000 companies use Active Directory as their primary method of authentication! 

Does your organization, like so many others, manage user identity with Active Directory (AD) too? If so, we’re guessing you have probably run into trouble with provisioning and deprovisioning for users across your environment. AD is great for identity management, but it was never built to act as a single sign-on (SSO) platform.

Challenges with AD for Provisioning & Deprovisioning

What this means is that either provisioning and deprovisioning would need to be performed for each application and user individually, or else, for Active Directory to be used to control access and permissions, each application would need to be integrated with AD separately. 

With the average enterprise running 1295 cloud-based applications, both these options seem like pretty poor choices. The former option is a tremendous drain on productivity for both admins and users, while the latter presents a host of complexities and costs to integrate AD with each of your apps.

IAM to the rescue!

So how do you get over these challenges? The answer lies in deploying an Identity & Access Management (IAM) solution that includes single sign-on (SSO) functionality.

Essentially, the IAM would act as an intermediate layer between your AD and your applications. So the IAM solution would need to integrate with Active Directory on the one side, and with all of your organization’s applications on the other. 

Through integration with your applications, the IAM can bring them all onto a single common platform and act as the Identity Provider (IdP) across your environment. Since most modern IAM solutions use SAML-based integrations with applications, these integrations are far less complex and expensive to implement than directly integrating AD to each application.

And secondly, integrating the IAM with AD would allow you to continue to manage identity – and now access permissions too – on AD itself.

Benefits of an IAM integrated with AD

At the end of this process, you would be able to control identity and access across your environment on Active Directory, giving you a familiar interface and process with enhanced functionality. 

Single-point control for your admins, and single-point access for your users, mean simple, fast provisioning and deprovisioning for IT and HR teams, saving them a tremendous amount of time and effort. 

Not to mention easy access to all permitted applications for users, helping to make them more productive too.

Akku is a powerful Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution by CloudNow that is built to play well with Active Directory, and also to integrate seamlessly with virtually any of your business applications. Call us today to see how Akku could enhance productivity and security at your organization!

The What, Why, and How of Deprovisioning

What’s deprovisioning?

Simply put, deprovisioning is the opposite of provisioning. While provisioning is carried out when an employee joins the organization, deprovisioning needs to be carried out when an employee exits. 

Deprovisioning involves revoking the user’s access to the organization’s data, applications and devices. It is the final stage of the corporate user lifecycle that begins with on-boarding and provisioning.

Why is it important?

Provisioning plays an important role in an organization’s productivity by getting new users the access they require to perform their role in the company. 

Deprovisioning, on the other hand, plays a critical role in security and compliance. When an employee moves on, it is vital that they no longer have access to the organization’s data or applications, because this would leave the door open to misuse. 

The consequences can range from data theft to malware insertion, leaks of confidential information to compliance violations. Each of these can have a major negative impact on the company’s finances as well as reputation.

How does it work?

Most organizations make use of multiple applications in their operations. Manually remembering to revoke access from a user when they exit the company can therefore be tedious, time consuming, and can easily result in human error as well.

A key requirement for an efficient and effective provisioning and deprovisioning process, therefore, is to bring control over access to all of the organization’s applications and data onto a single platform. This is typically achieved through the use of a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution – which is typically one of the major components of an Identity and Access Management solution.

With an SSO in place, the company’s admins can exercise control over user access from a single place, making the process fast, accurate and convenient. By removing the user’s account in one centralized dashboard, their access to all applications and data is then automatically revoked.

Akku is an enterprise identity and access management solution by CloudNow that helps companies manage the corporate user lifecycle more efficiently – from provisioning all the way to deprovisioning. Talk to us today to see how Akku could help your business address security and compliance issues arising from sub-optimal deprovisioning processes.

The Road Ahead: Emerging Trends in the Technology Sector

With each passing year, newer technologies emerge and companies of all sizes adopt them to keep up the competitive, ever-changing business landscape. According to a study by Gartner, the technology roadmap for 2020-2022 is said to be largely based on three major themes – remote work, productivity, and operations.

Here are five major trends expected to shape the future of technology in mid-sized enterprises in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Modernizing network infrastructure 

With the drastic rise in the remote work culture, thanks to the pandemic, mid-sized enterprises are busy equipping themselves better to embrace it in the long term. Some of the major investments in this area include container networking and virtual extensible local area network (VXLAN).

Small and mid-sized enterprises may leverage this opportunity to make work-from-home more mainstream in order to bring down long-term logistical and maintenance costs.

Facilitating secure remote access

In a bid to evolve traditional remote access and VPNs and plug in any related risks of using them while working from home, companies are also seriously considering investments in secured access service edge (SASE) and other cloud-based secure edge technologies.

What’s more, they are also gearing up to incorporate more edge technologies in the Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), and so on.

Democratizing of tasks

With the aim to improve speed and agility across business teams, enterprises are deploying citizen integrator tools. to bring data and applications together.

The emphasis will be on deploying no-code or low-code applications that are user-friendly and will promote “citizen development”.

Investing in automation tools and AI

In order to enhance employee productivity and streamline product/project delivery, more and more enterprises are also adopting automation tools for workload automation, event correlation, and so on.

A number of AI technologies that facilitate natural language processing and chatbots are also in the pipeline, although not until a year or so later. 

Adopting monitoring technologies

With the expansion of the virtual workplace, manual monitoring of employees and tasks is becoming obsolete. And with that, a slew of different monitoring tools for Digital experience monitoring (DEM) and application performance monitoring (APM) have hit the market.

Enterprise-wide workplace analytics solutions are also in the offing for a majority (80%) of mid-sized enterprises.

Redesigning security practices

With virtualized firewalls, software-defined security, and firewall-as-a-service solutions, mid-sized enterprises are simplifying the provisioning of security services at par with their larger counterparts.

They are also centralizing the governance of policies to support mixed workloads, keeping in mind the future of work.

Revamping front-end and back-end operations

With more focus on newer front-end operation technologies, enterprises are strengthening their cloud infrastructure and application development processes by deploying serverless computing, microservices, and OS containers.

At the same time, legacy back-end infrastructure, if any, is also being modernized. In this way, they are making the move towards low-risk, high-value investments that also minimize the time and effort needed for infrastructure management.

Finding it difficult to keep up with evolving trends? CloudNow Technologies has a solution that includes all that your business needs for secure remote working, seamless operations, and enhanced productivity in the new normal. It also comes equipped to evolve with your business as it grows. Get in touch with us to know more!

4+1 WAYS THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY IS NAVIGATING THE NEW NORMAL

The manufacturing industry took a big hit at the start of the pandemic-imposed lockdown, mainly due to two reasons. Firstly, most manufacturing units require workers to be on-site and remote working was not an option, unlike certain other sectors. This meant that manufacturing came to a complete stop, at least until they were allowed to reopen with several regulations in late April. Secondly, in many manufacturing sectors, the demand went down due to the slowing down of overall economic activity.

While times have continued to be challenging over the past months, here’s how manufacturing companies are changing their approach to cope with the new normal:

Adopting automation

Before the pandemic, most manufacturing companies relied heavily on manual activities and intervention at every step of the manufacturing and distribution process. Today, wherever possible, companies are minimizing manual intervention to enable social distancing and create safer workspaces for employees and workers.

Automation and other digital solutions that help workers collaborate better also improve the speed of manufacturing, making up for months of lost time, work, and revenue. What’s more, automation can also improve production efficiency by 3-5% and increase the global manufacturing output by 1.3 trillion USD.

Rethinking the supply chain

A smooth and seamless supply chain is crucial to the success of a manufacturing company as it prevents bottlenecks, prevents the accumulation of manufactured goods, and reaches customers/end-users without delay. All of this, unfortunately, were affected during the pandemic.

To tackle this issue, manufacturing companies are building more avenues through which their goods can reach their end-users. For example, companies like Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, and Kraft Heinz have introduced direct-to-consumer sites, to shorten or even eliminate the long supply chain.

Undertaking contract manufacturing

With import and export being severely affected and international transport still limited post the COVID-19 outbreak, how are manufacturing companies delivering their products across borders? Through increased collaborative efforts within the industry!

Many international/overseas manufacturers have taken to local contract manufacturing to make sure their customers continue to receive products from the brands they prefer. Contract manufacturing is also helping some manufacturers diversify their company’s product offerings during this time, without having to make expensive investments. Here is an example from the pharma manufacturing sector.

Addressing immediate needs

The manufacturing industry thrives on a fine balance between demand and supply. During the COVID-19 pandemic, while supply was temporarily affected by movement restrictions, demand underwent a paradigm shift.

People were no longer buying cars – they had nowhere to go. Instead, as healthcare facilities struggled to accommodate the growing number of COVID-19 cases, the demand for ventilators and PPE shot up! Automotive companies were quick to identify the need and shift gears to supply exactly what was in demand. That’s not all – even beauty brands began making hand sanitizers! In this way, several companies have stayed profitable by repurposing existing manufacturing facilities to produce products that are in high demand or experiencing shortages during this time.

Staying innovative

Necessity is the mother of invention, but innovation is what will keep manufacturing companies thrive in the new normal!

If you are in the manufacturing industry, we have just the right tools to help you streamline your operations, so you can keep innovating without worries! Talk to us about our Business Continuity & Operational Resilience (BCOR) solution today.

Digital Transformation: Considerations for a Post-Pandemic World

“Digital transformation” has been a buzzword well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In those pre-COVID times, digital transformation was only seen as a fancy way of saying that a business was being modernized. Many assumed that digital transformation is a one-time effort; a new tool/technology is introduced and it is considered done. Often an initiative spearheaded and undertaken by a handful of stalwarts within the company, it didn’t often have the support or involvement of other stakeholders.

Shifting Perspectives

Today, we hear the term “digital transformation” once again. But this time, it sounds different, important, and even necessary! Did the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to this paradigm shift in perspective? Indeed, it appears so!

In the post-COVID world, the importance of digital transformation is coming to the forefront, as the pandemic forced people to stay indoors and search for ways to work efficiently from home. There has been a pressing need for the rapid rise in the use of technology across industries and around the world. Workers and employers are connecting digitally and learning new skills and ways to manage their responsibilities through the use of technology. And this is pushing businesses, institutions, and governments out of their comfort zones and into the threshold of digital transformation.

Several experts are also stating that digital transformation is the way to building a resilient business in the new normal, causing many businesses of all sizes to consider it seriously.

If you are one of them, here are three important facts you must first know:

Digital transformation is not easy

Over 70% of digital transformations fail. Although different organizations fail due to different reasons, mismatched goals among management teams, the lack of expert support, a top-down approach that doesn’t involve employees and end users, and “exhaustion” from attempting to scale/transform too quickly are among the top reasons reported by companies.

Commitment is one of the most crucial elements to kick-start a digital transformation. There will be challenges, but if you keep the end goal in sight, you can keep at it till you succeed.

Digital transformation is a journey

You can choose to call it a journey, a process, or a metamorphosis – but what digital transformation is not is something that can be achieved overnight. From strategizing to setting clear goals and finding the right technology that will work well with your employees and customers – there’s a lot that leads the way to a solid digital transformation.

Moreover, for a digital transformation to stay relevant, it is important for it to also adapt and evolve with the progress of your company.

Digitize, digitalize, then digitally transform

The road to digital transformation begins with digitization. In other words, the conversion of analog data and documents to digital format. Digitization is the important first step because the digitized data becomes the source for leveraging digital technologies; or digitalization.

Digital transformation goes beyond digitization and digitalization (but includes the two) to an organization-wide adoption of digital technology, accompanied by cultural change. Digital transformation, therefore, cannot be complete without the stakeholders.

There are Challenges, Threats and a World of Opportunities

While digital technology has paved the way for many employees to work from home during the pandemic, it has also underlined multiple challenges and barriers that people and communities may have. Uneducated people, for example, cannot enjoy the luxury of working from home. The case is similar to those who cannot afford a computer or stable internet connection and those in regions that lack proper infrastructure.

Another reason why technology is sometimes seen as an enemy in developing countries is the fear that robots and technological innovations will reduce the need for manpower. It is true that technology can replace low-skilled manual labor in a manufacturing unit to mass-produce products faster and, now, to reduce the risk of disease spread. It is also true that the rise of popular online stores that offer contactless shopping experiences can put physical shops at risk.

However, technology is also an enabler of jobs and opportunities, as it has led to the creation of many new occupations and jobs. It can create safer, more comfortable, and efficient alternatives. It can help companies grow and do business in countries around the world, without the need for physical presence. The digital world is also becoming a platform for people of all backgrounds to showcase their talents and get recognized.

Digital transformation can mean different things to different organizations and different people. What you need is the right vision, commitment, expert support, and the right tools that match your needs and are ready to journey from one stage to the next with you.

CloudNow’s Akku BCOR is a holistic solution that is designed to power your digital transformation, regardless of whether your business is struggling to survive, trying to revive operations, ready to drive productivity, or preparing to thrive in the new normal! Get in touch with us to know more.

5 Facts You Need To Know About Data & Data-Driven Decision Making

Data-driven decision-making (DDDM) is the process of using insights drawn from data to aid the process of decision making in an organization.

In as early as 2016, a survey by PwC revealed that data-driven organizations are three times more likely to experience significant improvements in the decision-making process when compared to those that don’t. According to the same survey, data-driven decision making brings together the right combination of “mind and machine”.

If you haven’t yet embraced data in the way you should for decision making, here are some reasons why you should:

Every organization collects data in some way or the other

Believe it or not, your ops staff are spending 2-3 hours a day collecting data of some kind. In most cases, the data simply goes into a folder, for reporting or record-keeping. In fact, almost 54% of the data collected by a company goes “dark” or unused. Why not leverage it instead? By putting your data to work, you will be amazed at how much it can help you improve your operational efficiency and fuel your business growth!

Start with the data you are already collecting to use in decision making and you can gradually expand your databases depending on the need.

Data can help you make informed, unbiased decisions

Usually, the process of decision making is highly influenced by preconceived notions, suggestions of superiors, our own intuitions, and your team’s past experiences. While MIT and Harvard experts agree that intuition cannot be neglected altogether (for in some ways, even intuition is data-driven), relying on data means that your decision eliminates bias and is backed up by hard facts. Reducing the effect of bias in decision making can help you achieve up to 7% higher returns (McKinsey). Your only challenge here is to ensure that the data you collect is accurate and without errors – a problem that can be solved by using automation instead of manual methods.

As long as your data is authentic, you can be assured that it will make a difference to your bottom line.

Data helps you learn from the past and make predictions for the future

The power of data is that it can not only be used to study historical trends for decision making, but also to build futuristic predictions with the right tools. While it is true that we cannot foresee the future, it is possible to make near-perfect estimations using predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Leverage the right technology to auto-generate data-driven insights through easy-to-understand graphical representations in intuitive dashboards.

DDDM contributes to increased productivity and profitability

The Wall Street Journal records an MIT study that proved primarily data-driven benefited from 4% higher productivity as well as 6% higher profits. If you do not collect enough within your organization to use for decision making, opt for big data resources. According to studies by BARC, big data can help increase profit by 8–10% and ensure an overall cost reduction of up to 10%.

In short, the effectiveness of using data in decision making is time-tested and proven.

DDDM can be used to enhance multiple areas of your business

From zeroing in on cost-effective measures for different processes to identifying the right channels for marketing your new product with maximum ROI, and enhancing turnaround time for customer service – data-driven decision making can be utilized to improve all areas of your business.

We recommend that you begin with internal processes, such as reviewing employee productivity based on the number of working hours and then branch out to other areas gradually.

Getting Started with Data-driven Decision Making

  1. Find out what data you already collect, identify ways to incorporate it into your decision-making process
  2. Assess your data collection methods, improve it using automation technology to reduce time taken for collection, improve accuracy of data, and effectiveness of the overall process
  3. Use a data integration tool to bring all your collected data to one common platform in a readily usable format and maintain a master repository for easy access
  4. Incorporate business intelligence and use intuitive dashboards to make data analysis and visualization a hassle-free step in the process.

At CloudNow, we offer automation, data integration, data analysis. intuitive dashboards and much more for data-driven decision making through a holistic Business Continuity and Operational Resilience (BCOR) solution. To make the most of your data today, get in touch with us now!

Password Spray Attacks: What Are They & How To Avoid Them?

Ever wondered why organizations emphasize the importance of setting a complicated password as opposed to something convenient like ‘password123’? In today’s world, hackers are getting creative with their cybersecurity attacks. One type of attack that has gained a lot of traction in the past year is ‘password spraying’ – a type of brute force attack in the cybersecurity realm that goes beyond the traditional forms of hacking into an account. 

Picture this – in the past, hackers would attempt to gain unauthorized access to a single account by constantly guessing the password in a short period of time. But with organizations bringing measures such as locking an account when three or more attempts have been made, the user gets notified about any attempted security breach.  Continue reading Password Spray Attacks: What Are They & How To Avoid Them?