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What does it mean to modernize access control?

Learn what "modern" means in the context of today's cybersecurity world and what it means for organizations focusing on access control.

When discussing transformation in an enterprise, the word “modern” is often brought up, but it’s rarely appreciated for what it really implies.

For example, you often hear organizations talk about “modern security strategies”.

But…what does the word “modern” really mean in the context of cybersecurity?

What about in the context of access control?

And what should enterprises focus on when striving for a more modern environment?

The word “modern” in simple terms

It’s beneficial to begin with what the word modern means in simple terms. Like many words in the English language, it can have copious meanings and contexts.

For the sake of clarity, our definition is the act of taking current processes, strategies, or technologies and making them work more efficiently. In even simpler terms, it’s changing the status quo towards a more impactful outcome for the organization.

Modernization can sometimes also be confused with innovation.

When the car was invented, that was innovation. When people shifted from their horses to the car, that shift was modernization. For some people this shift took years versus others that were lined up at the local Ford dealership waiting for their car (Not sure if there was actually a line up, but it’s fun to imagine).

Much like our horses to cars analogy, access control went through the same process.

Before, employees had to plug into the corporate network at their desk in an office to access company information.

But, now?

Now they can access corporate information from anywhere, a coffee shop, their home, anywhere with internet connectivity.

While the last two decades of IT transformations were already focused on modernizing their workforce strategy, the accelerated shift to a remote or hybrid reality has made this need to modernize immediate with security being front and center to the strategy.

The word “modern” in the world of cybersecurity

Whether they are being proactive or reactive, every organization in the world is modernizing their cybersecurity strategy towards Zero Trust.

Zero Trust is the answer to securing a modern, decentralized organization that needs to be responsive and operate on a global scale while supporting today’s workforce.

This modernization towards achieving Zero Trust isn’t a destination within itself. Rather, it’s a continuous transformation. Some organizations have been on the journey to Zero Trust for many years.

However, there is no organization in the world that can say they have completed their Zero Trust strategy. That’s kind of like saying “I have watched everything on Netflix”.

So…how exactly should an enterprise modernize?

Axiomatics has the privilege of working with enterprises all around the world.

In some cases, the Information Technology teams of these organizations started in the 1950s and their definition of “modernization” likely looks different when compared to an organization that has come to market in the last decade.

As a result, when we talk about modernizing access control, where you start and how you modernize may look different depending on the organization.

What then, should enterprises focus on when looking to modernize their access control strategy?

If going modern feels like a daunting task, what are ways to overcome that mindset?

Overcoming the fear of modernization

Answering the questions above, there a couple of suggestions that can help combat the daunting fear some feel when thinking about modernization.

Make sure you have a clear “why” that your organization understands

Changing the status quo and modernizing is a journey and if your organization doesn’t have clear alignment on the “why”, it will make that transformation much more difficult.

In the context of access control, this is often about helping your organization accelerate its innovation in a secure manner. If you want to drive that car really fast, you better have great brakes.

Start small and build towards a crawl, walk, and ultimately run maturity model

Zone in on specific requirements that would build momentum early, while still keeping the end vision in mind. This not only makes it less overwhelming, but it’s easier to see success at a faster rate.

This also means that while you are setting a vision for the business, you don’t force every application team to modernize their access control strategy at once.

Ideally, in the crawl phase, you target teams that are already starting to modernize or even build new applications which requires an innovative approach to access control.

Learn more about our crawl, walk, run growth model.

Ensure you set realistic expectations

Much like everyday life, it would be impossible for 24 hours of the day to go smoothly 100% of the time. Things happen that are beyond our control; that’s nature.

As a result, it’s important to set the right expectations with your stakeholders all throughout your modernization journey.

For some organizations, we have seen them deploy a new authorization strategy to applications in a matter of weeks. However, others may take months to get to that first win. It all depends on your organization’s readiness and maturity.

Modernizing in an innovative world

Being modern is a fine balancing act between keeping an eye on innovative trends while respecting the pace and maturity of the organization as well as your respective market.

This is not easy.

The pace of cybersecurity innovation is compounding as threats only increase.

As a result, the most successful organizations will be the ones that are continuously modernizing against a vision and strategy.

Ones that are innovative enough to support the new threats in the market while also respecting the pace and maturity of their business.


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About the author

As the chief product officer for Axiomatics, Mark is responsible for shaping the company’s innovation and product strategies. Mark has more than ten years of experience across product management, product marketing and business development, with companies including e-Share, Titus and Accenture.