Securing Access in the Digital Workspace

Companies across the world are embracing digital transformation and seizing the opportunities offered by mobile cloud and digital workspace technologies to streamline business processes, enhance customer experiences, and reduce costs.

While digital transformation offers great business, operational, and financial rewards, it also presents some real challenges, including increased complexity and heightened security concerns.

VMware wanted to find out how businesses are managing the digital transformation journey, and how they are coping with key challenges, including mitigating security risks. So in July 2016, the company fielded its second annual survey of more than 1,200 global business decision makers and IT practitioners. The results are presented in the State of the Digital Workspace Report 2016.

Security in the Mobile Cloud Era
One key concern voiced by executives in the survey is security. To reap the benefits of mobility and digital workspace technologies, businesses must provide more devices and more points of access to mission-critical apps and systems. That proliferation of devices and access points increases management complexity and increases the chance of data breaches, either through negligence or malicious activity.

In the survey, 47 percent of executives and IT practitioners said security was the most critical IT priority as they transition to a digital workspace. In addition, almost half (49 percent) stated that security concerns are the main barrier to digital workspace technology investment.
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The impact of security on moving initiatives forward cannot be underestimated. Among survey respondents, 42 percent saw it as the biggest obstacle to deploying digital workspaces and achieving business mobility goals. Without a way to better protect access to apps and systems, businesses cannot enable employees to engage with mobile devices.

More than half (57 percent) of executives across all business, and 64 percent in healthcare, cite security concerns for postponing bring your own device (BYOD) and choose your own device (CYOD) programs that could otherwise give employees access to more productive mobile tools.

Identity Management Software Usage Is Increasing
All this begins to explain why identity management software is emerging as a necessary element in the creation of an effective digital workspace. In 2016, it ranked third out of 14 essential capabilities (at 37 percent) behind security and compliance tools (45 percent) and mobile device management software (38 percent). vmware-digital-workspace-softwareIdentity Management Software Mitigates Risk
Identity management software is growing in popularity as it becomes clear that it’s the most effective tool for a business to control and protect access to apps, systems, and resources.

Identity management solutions focus on tools to manage user roles, track activity, and enforce access policies, including:

  • Single sign-on (SSO), where a user’s credentials allow access to multiple applications or systems from different devices
  • Policy-based access control (PBAC) that allows administrators to create access policies and apply them to groups of users
  • Authentication tokens or processes that validate users’ identities

Effective identity management ensures that people only have access to the data or programs necessary for their work. Organizations can monitor and control entry to reduce the risk of accidental or malicious data loss. At the same time, productivity goes up as employees are able to securely connect from mobile devices to enterprise systems.

A more automated and systematic approach decreases management costs and cuts the redundant effort that goes along with manual, piecemeal solutions—prime business objectives for digital transformation.

Who’s Using Identity Management Software?

Currently, the survey shows businesses in EMEA are deploying identity management software more often than companies in North America or APAC. This is likely the result of more stringent government oversight and privacy regulations.

Also evident from the survey is the fact that heavily regulated industries with a special focus on sensitive information and data compliance are leading the way. Finance organizations have deployed identity management software at a greater rate than others, with 43 percent reporting the technology already in use. Healthcare organizations are more actively evaluating and piloting identity management software than other industries (34 percent).

Where Next?
Identity management software, integrated into a seamless digital workspace platform, is increasingly the solution of choice for enterprises seeking to better protect information as they become digital businesses. It meets executive-level concerns about security while reducing the complexity of managing multiple devices and identities. VMware will be watching with interest to see how its usage and importance grow.

Download the full State of the Digital Workspace 2016 report.