Guest Blog | April 8, 2020

Lack of Industry Domain Knowledge is Making Identity an Expensive Proposition

As a 20-year veteran in the Identity space, the one constant over time has been the lack of contextual training to help to provide customers the necessary details to properly employ the available Identity controls that a full-suite stack provides.  Oftentimes, consumers are met with ‘time and materials’ based training models, or worse, they become reliant upon a vendor in order to maintain the continuity of their Identity programs as needs, requirements and regulations change. This is an expensive proposition.

Let’s face it, Identity is an expensive proposition if you follow the accepted standards that exist today.  Those standards are “We are the experts and we will figure it out during the project”. This reactionary approach to obtaining and sustaining the necessary domain knowledge to grow Identity programs is the reason that organizations run out of budget and begin to look elsewhere. This “blame the vendor” game becomes a large part of the discussion to push forward the (often) political narrative that it must be the vendor since it is their software stack we are using.  I respectfully say that the majority of the time the opposite is true and that is not a shot at anyone.  I’ve spoken with countless executives in my tenure that feel if there was just a way to provide the Identity agnostic domain knowledge, it would help his or her staff to adjust and grow within their chosen Identity platform provider, even homegrown solutions as well!

As an executive for a vendor in the space, I feel it is time for a change in approach to delivering the necessary domain knowledge to teach our collective customers (regardless of vendor) the HOW’s and the WHY’s of Identity Governance & Administration.

I believe it is time we empower our consumers with not only mechanical knowledge of how to deploy our products but we also must begin to address the elephant in the room.  We must begin to expand the reach of our industry’s discipline in ways that many have not taken the time to invest to do it properly. We are all aware of the shortage of (affordable) personnel with the necessary Identity domain knowledge to allow for a T&M, consultative approach to on-going Identity program maintenance. 

I believe the customers in the Identity space are just as talented, if not more talented technically than many of us that have decided on a life of travel and working the vendor side of the industry.  I’ve run into countless technical professionals over time that are more-than-intelligent enough to obtain the necessary mechanical skills to deploy any product on the market today. However, for every 1 person that is technically capable, I can name 3 that are technically capable but lack the context of Identity.  And I say that with all due respect, as often times the context is simply and robotically provided by the vendor for the benefit of how it will best work using their particular product. This is the part of the core Identity industrial infrastructure that I see beginning to crack. It should be our overall marching orders and quite frankly a sense of obligation as leaders in the Identity space to start to provide the necessary context about Identity, agnostically.   Many products offer the similar set of features and functionality from a technical point of view, but what about the agnostic industry as a whole? This is the next evolution within Identity. Knowledge.

Identity is a discipline in and of itself and I feel that the conversation has been steered down such a technical and protocol driven dialog that many folks who have no desire or need to understand the Nth degree of technical integration syntax are left out of the conversation in favor of a technical solution to everything.  And speaking from experience, any application built by engineers, strictly for engineers will die on the vine. It is my belief the only true way to provide our collective customers with the knowledge they need to make informed and risk-aware decisions about their own Identity programs is to do a much better job training them.

Kara Miller