Zen and the Art of Identity Security

In the classic book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a father and son take a cross-country motorcycle trip to connect. While the book is as philosophical as you can get, for today, I want to focus on one concept in the novel that resonated with me and how it applies to our technological innovation, particularly with identity security, in the months to come.

The first part of the book tells the protagonist’s story and his dislike for technology—hear me out. The main character, and one of his travel buddies, see it merely as a catalyst to help people understand things rationally. He views people who use technology—keep in mind this book is from the 70s— are missing out on intuition and the other qualities that make us human. What’s more, he views technology as an intimidating black box:

You go through a heavy industrial area of a large city, and there it all is, the technology. In front of it are high barbed-wire fences, locked gates, signs saying NO TRESPASSING, and beyond, through sooty air, you see ugly strange shapes of metal and brick whose purpose is unknown and whose masters you will never see. What it’s for you don’t know, and why it’s there, there’s no one to tell, and so all you can feel is alienated, estranged, as though you didn’t belong there. Who owns and understands this doesn’t want you around. All this technology has somehow made you a stranger in your own land.

 Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This got me thinking about how technology, especially security-related technology, is used right now. Systems are complex, visibility can be hard, and we end up becoming dependent on opaque business applications–where it’s hard to say for sure if they’re configured right and the data within is secured. While I’m encouraged to see the focus on UX for B2B software over the last several years, it still remains that our technology can still be cold and intimidating…”strange shapes of metal and brick whose purpose is unknown…” People need the human side of technology, now more than ever before.

In the last year, many conversations I’ve had with customers and prospects have all had a similar tone. 2020 shook their confidence. It’s been uncharted, unprecedented, and unknown. Not only did many have to give access to a remote workforce rapidly, but they’ve also had to make sure IT could keep up with new technology, like Slack and Zoom, and securing their workforce’s access all at the same time. Not an easy feat.

This struck me as a pain point for how our customers view security now and in the future. As a former CISO, I realize the pressure to secure an environment and protect the assets that reside within. The rapid adoption of SaaS and the cloud also makes it especially tricky. And at the same time, organizations need to ensure business productivity and continuity are not impaired. 

In these conversations, it is clear to me the critical role identity security plays in putting the human back into our technology—and providing better visibility beyond the barbed-wire fences and locked gates of business systems. Specifically, when it comes to:

  • Securing SaaS apps and cloud access—we continue to make product updates to enhance SaaS app visibility as more and more organizations head to cloud computing to support business needs; 
  • Streamlining the user experience—we announced in Q1 of this year that our SaaS platform is fully open and extensible—and launched a new developer community (backed with actual people who will respond quickly!) to provide a human side to this technology;
  • Gathering customer feedback—we recently launched a new ideas portal to crowdsource ideas, problems, and ultimately our solutions—and we’ve already implemented some of the great ideas from our customers.

All these facets ultimately lead to cyber resilience that organizations need today, and to get there, means having the confidence knowing you have the right tools to withstand the bumps in the road that come along. 

To that end, even though we successfully launched several product updates in Q1, we are not stopping there. Over the next few weeks, you will see additional updates and features to our platform for optimal security benefits. 

Our product updates will be in line with how we view the future of identity security with a focus on: 

  • Providing deeper access control
  • Centralizing identity security with customized workflows 
  • Offering enhanced visibility and insights for roles and reporting 

The technology we use to secure our business needs now does not need to be intimidating. In the next few years, we will continue to see how identity security will continue to play a more significant role in supporting cyber resilience. With that, SailPoint will be there every step of the way to provide the tools and resources needed for a strong security posture. Our vision and determination to get there is the art of identity security of now and in the future.

Follow our product updates here.


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