From Evolution to Revolution

How COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation

As shelter-in-place restrictions caused by COVID-19 slowly start to lift around the world, the notion that it will be “business as usual” is far from reality. At this stage, we know comparatively little about the virus and its long-term impact on business. But there are definite indicators based on the countless conversations I’ve been having with customers in the last eight weeks that companies with strong digital identity strategies have fared much better than those that did not.

The discussions I’ve had with leaders inside financial institutions, media conglomerates, and others offer some very interesting insights into how customer preferences, needs, and expectations might evolve in the coming months. Here are my virtual “notes from the road,” which I hope are useful to any organization looking for guidance on starting their rebuilding efforts in a post-pandemic world. 

COVID-19 has forced dramatic change in the digital world

The pandemic has pushed organizations to accelerate their digital transformation at an unprecedented pace. Pre-COVID-19, most businesses were on an evolutionary path to digital transformation. Now, necessity has forced them into a digital revolution. 

Overnight, our customers saw spikes in online traffic at levels normally associated with special events such as Black Friday or the Olympics – events where, historically, people had months or years to plan. COVID-19 afforded no preparation time. Huge spikes in activity across e-tail, education, healthcare, banking, telecommunications, and other sectors  became a reality as both adults and children turned to a new remote way of life and working. Simultaneously, an uptick in malicious activity took place, as cybercriminals tried taking advantage of organizations that slashed red tape and bureaucracy in a desperate effort to keep up.

At ForgeRock, we believe this is a moment of truth for brands. An organization’s core mission won’t change because of COVID-19, but how they deliver on it has. Ensuring secure access and a streamlined, frictionless user experience are vital to maintaining competitive advantage. As a result, identity and access management (IAM) has emerged as a top priority. Even as some organizations cut spending, digital identity remains a must-have priority, with most identity and access management initiatives moving forward with even greater urgency.

Seize the opportunity to disrupt 

Looking at the situation optimistically, we see this time as a unique opportunity for your business to rally and to stand apart from the rest. Zoom is a perfect example of a brand that has achieved cultural awareness as a result of the global health crisis. It has moved beyond the enterprise and is now one of the primary ways housebound people connect worldwide.

“Getting identity right” means making it easy for your customers to connect to you digitally –  making it easy to login, reset passwords, receive personalized digital content, and feel secure, with respect for their privacy. Users deserve a digital experience that is both simple and safe. Getting identity right could change the trajectory of your company and make your brand a household word. By 2022, it’s estimated that businesses that provide great customer experiences are projected to earn 20% more in revenue than those with less than optimum customer experience.1

Identity technology is an enabler

The data we’ve gathered from our own customers attests to this. ForgeRock has enabled many organizations to scale up in order to meet consumer demand. Here are real-world examples of how organizations across multiple sectors adapted quickly to address the changing needs of both consumers and the workforce.

  • Scale at unprecedented levels: A large media organization serving a major European country had to scale dramatically during COVID to accommodate billions of access requests from citizens tuning in for live news updates and streaming content at different times of day. Historically, events of this scale would be related to a major sports event or an important political event and would be planned for months or years in advance. With COVID-19, this scale is occurring daily.  
  • Massive switch from “in-person” to digital relationships overnight: Overnight, a large banking organization saw a 300% increase in online/mobile banking while also experiencing a 51% decrease in local branch foot traffic.
  • Rapidly mobilizing a new remote workforce: One large financial company shared a common experience of going from 95% of the workforce located in offices pre-COVID-19 to the same number now working from home. The impact to productivity was felt immediately by both IT professionals and staffers when the rollout of new collaboration apps for virtual whiteboarding and video chat began and the need for multi-factor authentication for securely implementing remote work became apparent. 
  • Black Friday every day: Many of our retail customers reported unprecedented increase in online activity – surpassing Black Friday level traffic. DevOps and auto-scaling capabilities in ForgeRock IAM have been critical in supporting these levels of traffic.

Zero Trust timelines have accelerated by over a year

Zero trust and “identity as the new perimeter” have been popular thought leadership topics in IAM and often on an organization’s roadmap, but in the midst of COVID-19, the roadmap for accomplishing these initiatives has been accelerated by a year or more. 

In addition to navigating  increased customer demand, many organizations have also come to realize that their traditional approach to digital identity management falls short in enabling all their employees to work remotely and to access applications securely. The need to adopt a work-from-home policy for employees has put pressure on capacity for many businesses. Realizing that there is no such thing as a trusted network or device, organizations are now opting for risk-based authentication and authorization methods. 

Another concern is an increase in Coronavirus-themed security threats – from phishing campaigns to fraud. A joint alert issued by the U.K. and U.S. lists more than 2,500 COVID-19-related scams. It’s more critical than ever to provide a secure online experience for all types of users on all types of devices. ForgeRock helps you protect user privacy while ensuring secure connections on all their things.

Consequently, the adoption of a Zero Trust model – the foundation of the ForgeRock IAM Platform – has accelerated.

Enable safe and simple digital access

With more people relying on online services, it’s critical to ensure that the first steps in any digital journey are smooth and seamless. It’s often at login that you are most at risk of losing users, especially when they have forgotten their usernames or passwords. We will soon roll out new capabilities that ensure you retain customers – regardless of their technical skill level –  during the login process. Soon you’ll be able to quickly and easily determine who the user is, what device they are on, and what their preferences are.  

Protect digital users

During COVID-19, everyone has opened themselves up digitally to a greater extent. This new “all digital” lifestyle has caused people to want more control over their data and privacy. Our self-service privacy and consent dashboards enable users to securely share and revoke or authorize consent. We also offer users choices, asking them whether they prefer passwordless or password-driven logins. 

As the digital revolution unfolds in all of its permutations, we are here to help you meet and exceed the expectations of your customers and employees alike. When it comes to digital identity, remember: you are not alone. Find useful resources at Connect Everyone

 

 1. Gartner Identity and Access Management Summit, Keynote: “The Future Identity and Access Management in 2019 and Beyond,” Gregg Kreizman and Mary Ruddy.