How to transition your organization toward a self-service IT platform Featured

9:01pm EDT March 31, 2012
How to transition your organization toward a self-service IT platform

Last month’s ii2P Insights article described the initial steps that small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) should take, considering that implementing a self-service platform is both strategic to improving customer intimacy as well as reducing overall costs.

This month, Steve Carter, president and CEO of ii2P, describes one of the easier elements companies can implement to transition to a self-service model — automated self-service password reset solutions.

“If you peel back the covers and examine the monthly call volume coming into IT support help desks across all business environments, easily 25-40 percent of the reason employees call is because they’ve forgotten a password or locked themselves out of something,” Carter says.

Smart Business spoke with Carter about why self-service password management is something SMBs should take a hard look at.

Why is password management so important to SMBs?

Intellectual property theft is significant — it compromises an SMB’s oftentimes thin competitive edge. SMBs should be proactive when it comes to password management. After all, the cost to implement a secure solution is a fraction of what could be lost in intellectual capital.

Many SMBs look to cloud-based IT solutions to run their businesses and lower their costs. However, this sets them up for the greatest opportunity for IP theft. While some cloud companies do provide stringent security controls, it can be a bit alarming to have all your company IP centralized into the cloud.

Cloud based solutions offer convenience, but this is not the top priority for an SMB — security is. The SMB needs to understand that both convenience and security can be obtained. If you have spent money on a tool and are still calling a service desk for help, you are spending too much. It’s important to build a solution that is convenient for your end users and is also secure.

How big a problem is ineffective password management?

I’ve been in the IT industry for 30 years and password management consistently accounts for 25-40 percent of all calls that come into a help desk. This is a huge number. The loss of productivity for an end user is significant. It’s not just the office user, but also remote travelers who have to call the help desk to get their passwords so they can do their presentations. Every year, millions of dollars are spent answering customer reset problems.

If you bring the right solution to the table, you can reduce overall IT costs significantly. If end users adopt your solution, you are going to increase your security, decrease your costs and protect your intellectual capital. It’s important to begin the process by automating the password reset in a manner in which the end user will actually use.

By implementing the right technology security solution you can remove the exposure of the end user, who is the weakest link in the chain, and enhance your security by gradually making it more complex.

What are some of the available solutions and which ones are best for the SMB?

There are a lot of cloud-based solutions that cater to one key element: convenience. SMBs who utilize cloud-based solutions are susceptible to security breaches. My recommendation is to tailor a token-based solution. Countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia  are already accepting the smartchip, token-type approach. This solution is not as prevalent in North America yet, but will become more and more common.

There are smartchip, token solutions out there now that have been engineered from the end user’s perspective. This ensures that the change in the business application of password management does not reside at the help desk, but with the end user. Also, when you use this approach you are able to build a solution that is tailored to your specific environment and is able to expand as your business grows.

How can SMBs benefit from self-service password management?

Password management is an ongoing and growing concern. The ability to secure passwords should be a priority for every business, whether it is small, medium or large. You should focus on the end user, making sure that they embrace the solution you provide, rather than ignoring it. If you choose the right solution — which in my opinion is a chip-based, token solution — you are going to realize four key benefits:

1) Increased security

2) Increased end user compliance

3) Increased end user productivity

4) Reduced cost for support

Steve Carter is president and CEO of ii2P. Reach him at (817) 442-9292 or scarter@ii2p.com.

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