Corporate Conversations: Hitachi ID Systems on the Challenges Facing Higher Ed

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CEO for Hitachi ID Systems, Nick Brown, talks about the challenges of identity strategy in higher ed.

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Nick Brown
Hitachi ID Systems, Inc.

Nick Brown: Higher ed actually faces a lot of challenges that we see. One is volume. I think security has to happen at a pace in a university much higher than what we see in a corporation. Every quarter, you might have 10,000 joiners, which would be students joining your campus, or 10,000 students leaving your campus. So how do you manage that volume? And finding systems and solutions that provide security can be done, but the ones that do it at scale an automated fashion is very important. So tying your security needs around strong identity, the ability to foster identities over time, years, decades even, as students leave or graduate from your university and become alumni, you stay in touch. You continue to provide them with email access. You continue to provide them access to systems and services. And what you don't want to do is have that access be compromised by bad actors or people who are trying to take advantage of incomplete, unscalable processes that leave things behind that you are constantly trying to clean up. But you can't do it without some form of strong identity strategy that allows you to onboard those people and kind of provide the services and capabilities they need, at the scale you need. If I kind of summarize the things I see are challenging our customers in the higher ed space, it's really volume. How do I keep up with this volume? If I have manual processes, it gets really painful. Mistakes get made, things get left behind. So I need a lot of automation. I need a cohesive identity project that allows me to even progressively profile identities. I have early students coming into the university. Their high school, maybe they're doing a fast start program. I want capture those people and start to kind of get them to come and obviously join our university as a student. And then throughout their lifecycle, as an undergrad, as a graduate student, as maybe a doctorate student, and then an alumni, I really want to kind of build this story and this family type atmosphere around our university that entices people to come in future generations, join our facility. And that's a big volume for us. So how do we manage that as a university and tie identity to that, and then provide access to all the systems, the facilities that they need to fulfill their roles as students or faculty in the same fashion? So that's, I think, really the biggest problem that they face. And it kind of gets a bit strained when you're the CSO or the CIO of the university. And you're really trying to get everybody to get on board with your program and provide them with a world class, delightful experience that lets identity be the new forefront of how you supply services to your students and provide a frictionless experience. So people can get their packet, get online, get on board, get everything they need to get started. And nobody's calling the help desk to try to figure out how to get access and get things done. So identity really, for me, is the new engagement fulcrum for what people want to do to provide a great experience.