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State Identity Solutions: Build? Buy? Or Both?

Evaluating Identity Management in the Public Sector

July 27, 2021

Recently, I attended a National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO)

Committee meeting where one state gave an impressive presentation on how they built their own Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) for all of their citizens. It was a massive undertaking that took the better part of four years and required buy-in from the highest levels of the state government.

Not for the faint of heart, but to this state’s credit, they did it.

Enrollment is up, and applications have been added. However, even by their own admission, if they had to do it again, they may have chosen to buy or consider a hybrid approach (build and buy).

A modern state identity solution like Auth0 provides the option for governments to do both: build and buy.

The Rise of Citizen Digital Services

Current and potential customers sometimes cite future uncertainty as one reason they choose to keep IDaaS development in-house, but digital citizen services are here to stay. NASCIO recently affirmed in their 2021 State CIO Top 10 Priorities that digital citizen services, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and the shift to cloud are all top priorities.

As a result, Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) solutions and statewide Single Sign On (SSO) for citizens should remain top priorities to work towards for state IT. In fact, as the digital natives age, the demand for digital citizen services will only continue to grow, as will the expectations for competitive customer experiences.

The public expects to interact with the government the way they do with other websites and applications like their bank. There is a growing understanding of this among state governments and other public sector institutions. Subsequently, those who opt to build IDaaS solutions from scratch will be forced to adapt, support, and scale with the speed and agility of private SaaS companies.

But building the solution is just the beginning.

Customizable CIAM for Custom Applications

Departments that opt to build their own CIAM solutions will have to keep up with changes, emerging threats, breaches, and outages, along with emerging compliance and privacy requirements; then there’s the need to keep pace with citizen demand for new features as the internet evolves.

In government administrations that change frequently, CIOs leave. The potential of the solution becoming antiquated or obsolete is real. By having a modern state identity solution as at least part of your solution, you can still private label it as your own while using a pre-built solution that can be quickly picked up by a new development team.

Cloud-based identity solutions like Auth0 provide an elastic identity engine that can expand or recede. It provides a nice hedge against the future, just in case.

Another reservation expressed with the “build” approach is the ‘speed to service’. How quickly can state governments make applications available to the general public by building them versus partnering with custom IDaaS solution companies like Auth0?

Typically, one of the most critical parts of a project is wiring up applications for identity. States can take months, even years developing their own IDaaS solutions and slow the rollout of their applications. This can mean citizens are not getting access to crucial services for long periods of time.

Offloading CIAM to Expedite Secure Application Deployment

With a buyable solution like Auth0, state administrations are able to roll out digital services in days versus years for a custom-built in-house solution. The back-end of Auth0’s solutions are pre-built, allowing teams to customize quickly with low to no-code inputs from a development team to get a new release deployed faster.

This is Auth0’s sweet spot: our extensibility. The right buyable CIAM solution is customizable and designed to offload the burden of custom configuration for developers. This enables government organizations to move faster and get citizen technology shipped sooner without compromising on the security of critical information.

Buyable CIAM solutions like Auth0 will produce the seamlessly secure customer experience that citizens have come to expect from digital portals while offering developers and IT teams the customization and extensibility they need to get projects out the door sooner.

To learn more about CIAM for government, start with our whitepaper then get in touch with our identity specialists to continue the conversation.

Finally, it is our opinion there is a vast difference between those who build IT identity solutions meant for the workforce and those who build them for customers and citizens. CIAM solutions often require a great amount of extensibility and flexibility, whereas off-the-shelf third-party applications for the workforce are plug and play.

Perhaps the answer is not build or buy, but both. Use Auth0 as part of your build scenario, if only as a hedge against the future.

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