The Quest For Workforce Identity Maturity

In literary terms, a quest is described as “an adventurous journey” taken on by a story’s main character. This journey often brings challenges, but by the end, the main character gains enhanced knowledge and experience.

What does a literary device have to do with Identity? Implementing and growing your Identity practice is no different from a quest. Imagine you and your team must solve a series of challenges facing your organization — fragmented user identities, inefficient processes, and high-risk security postures, just to name a few. The journey towards a secure and agile organization is time consuming and taxing. And while the end goal is clear — streamlined identities, automation, enhanced security policies, etc. — the path there can be intimidating.

By prioritizing Identity maturity within your organization, you’ll benefit from a strengthened security posture, a more productive workforce, improved operational efficiencies, and continued business growth.

Workforce Identity Maturity Model

Our Workforce Identity Maturity Model aims to create a cohesive framework to help you assess progress in your organization’s Identity maturity journey, understand how Identity can help drive your broader business initiatives, and provide the next steps to help continue growing your Identity practice.

Read on to learn where you are on your Workforce Identity Maturity quest and where to go from here.

Stage 1: Fundamental

In the fundamental stage, organizations must learn to balance managing applications and users while providing protection from Identity-based attacks.

Organizations at this stage of Identity maturity often struggle with:

  • Poor visibility due to fragmented user identities and directory sprawl
  • Heightened attack risk due to password reliance and limited federation
  • Legacy systems and tools that don’t support modern hybrid and cloud infrastructures

To move beyond this stage, it’s important to consolidate and simplify.

  • Move away from manually managing users and apps.
  • Increase defense against Identity-based attacks by implementing basic single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) with role-based access policies.
  • Create a comprehensive inventory of all on-premises and cloud applications to guide decisions and help assess coverage.

Stage 2: Scaling

With fundamental Identity functions in place, you can focus on refinements to help your organization scale.

Organizations in the scaling stage frequently face

● Insufficient granular access controls that favor convenience over security

● Limited use of/compliance with MFA across the workforce

● Manual onboarding and offboarding of employees, impacting productivity
At this point in your quest, you’ll want to layer security controls and expand automation.

● Initiate early stages of a Zero Trust architecture with dynamic access policies

● Extend SSO capabilities for the entire workforce (employees, contractors, and partners) with self-service options

● Automate across the user lifecycle and provisioning

Stage 3: Advanced

At this stage, organizations have established a broad range of Identity systems, focusing on advancing controls through automation or increased security policies.

Challenges at this stage include:

● Inefficient processes with manual intervention

● Balancing user experience and system security

● Contextless access policies based on static factors
Your focus at this point should be automating and elevating the experience for IT/security teams and the workforce at large.

● Employ advanced lifecycle management, with automation for common tasks (access requests and approvals, app provisioning, etc.)

● Enable self-service access requests

● Implement risk-aware and phishing-resistant authentication and authorization

Stage 4: Strategic

You’ve made it to the final stage of your quest. Or so it seems. However, the strategic phase is ongoing.

Some challenges to tackle include:

● Optimizing the use of the cloud

● Securing users and applications at the edges

● Revamping security rules from static to dynamic

You can optimize and extend Identity by:

  • Fully automating policy, user lifecycle management, and Identity-related IT and security operations workflows across cloud apps and services
  • Leveraging Identity capabilities to deliver highly extensible and frictionless workforce and partner experiences across all devices
  • Employing intelligent, contextual, and continuous authentication and authorization that can keep pace with modern-day intrusions

While your quest for Workforce Identity Maturity may be long, you and your team can take pride in some key markers of progress:

  • Increased organizational agility
  • Improved user experience
  • Augmented security posture
  • Enhanced reliability
  • Aligned and advanced strategy

Written By: