30 Fastest Growing Tech Companies 2019

An Interview with Jay O’Donnell, N8 Identity, Inc. CEO: ‘Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Identity Governance’


“TheAccessHub is an exciting departure from traditional identity governance products, and it represents a real disruption in the market.”

Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions have traditionally been highly technical and complex, but shrinking IT budgets and an increased focus on empowering users have required modern IAM solutions to be business-friendly and easy to use. The enterprise needs a solution that is easy to deploy, easy to use and able to manage its hybrid environment.

In light of the above-mentioned scenario, we’re thrilled to present N8 Identity, Inc.

N8 Identity develops and implements identity and access management solutions. The company offers TheAccessHub, an Identity-as-a-Service governance platform that is mobile-first and powered by artificial intelligence. Additionally, the company provides professional and managed services for identity and access management.

N8 Identity was incorporated in 2000 and is based in Burlington, Canada.

Jay O’Donnell, N8 Identity, Inc. CEO/Founder, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? And what do you propose to bring into the market?

After leading large-scale IAM projects for dozens of the world’s best-known businesses, we identified the need for an identity governance platform that offered a business solution rather than a toolkit – one that served all areas of the organization, but that was easy to deploy, agile, and eliminated the need for costly and time-consuming customizations. It was also critical that the platform addressed cloud, on-premises and hybrid environments. The result of this vision was the founding of N8 Identity and its flagship solution, TheAccessHub.

Q. Tell us about your first product that was launched.

TheAccessHub is N8 Identity’s award-winning Identity-as-a-Service governance platform. Cloud-based and AI-powered, TheAccessHub provides identity governance for employees, contractors, vendors, partners and/or customers, delivering visibility and management of “who has access to what” across the enterprise whether they are on-premise, in the cloud, or any hybrid combination. AI and Machine Learning are central to TheAccessHub’s ability to dramatically improve the security posture of organizations by automating manual security tasks and identifying security exposures before they happen.

Q. How successful was your implementation of TheAccessHub? Share the experience.

Our first implementation was for a corporation with about 30,000 employees. There were 40 systems under management, resulting in 990,000 user accounts across the organization. Right away, we identified that 20 percent (158,0000) were enabled orphan accounts - accounts that were open, but had no specific user attached to them. These were either administrative accounts that pose an immediate and significant security risk, accounts that were valid but not associated with the appropriate colleague, or those that belonged to ex-colleagues that were never removed or disabled. All of these cases represented a security exposure to the organization.

There were also about 18,500 shared accounts – accounts being used by more than one person. The problem with these accounts is that there is no audit trail to reveal which user actually performed tasks using those accounts.

Prior to TheAccessHub, the organization wouldn’t have even known it had these problems.

After an eight-week implementation period, it took us just five months to remediate all these problems through a strong combination of data synchronization, certification and governance processes, and policy enforcement, driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Q. What is the current market scenario?

Currently, the market is very fragmented, populated by various providers including legacy players and point solutions. Many of these players rely on older technologies that are monolithic – old architectures with bolt-on components. They’re not agile, and what they offer are toolkits rather than business solutions. Nothing is ready right out of the box. It requires a lot of time and expensive customization to get their products up and running.

Meanwhile, it’s 2019 and, companies are moving to the cloud - and simply aren’t prepared to support that move.

TheAccessHub is an exciting departure from traditional identity governance products, and it represents a real disruption in the market. Not only does it provide enterprise-class functionality out of the box, it heavily leverages AI and machine learning to address or eliminate many of the historical challenges associated with identity governance. This is in support of our overall vision of Autonomous Identity Governance. This vision entails replacing manually routine tasks with AI and machine learning. This drives efficiency, and it also dramatically improves the security posture of an organization by providing guidance and insights to non-technical business users, enabling them to make better choices around user access. In addition, TheAccessHub is able to highlight access anomalies inside an organization; issues that have historically been hidden to organizations until it’s too late.

Q. What are the factors that make your company stand out from the competition?

There are two primary elements to this. First and foremost: our people. We’ve had the good fortune to build a world-class team of industry thought leaders. Our IAM framework, methodology and processes help our team deliver solutions on a consistent, repeatable basis.

The second key element is our innovation. We’re always thinking, “Just because it was done this way yesterday, doesn’t mean it needs to be done that way tomorrow.” It’s exciting to see how we are innovating with AI and machine learning to address historical identity governance challenges and highlight security exposures that the organization didn’t even know it had.

Q. Are there any new products you’re preparing to roll out to the market?

TheAccessHub is our flagship suite of products. Within that suite, we have TheAccessHub Enterprise, which is an identity governance solution primarily targeted at employees, vendors, partners, and internally-focused staff inside of an organization. It ensures that the right people have the right access at the right time – and all of the compensating controls around that; whether it’s policy enforcement, access request management, real-time automated provisioning or manual provisioning.

Currently, we’re developing a Customer Identity Access Management (CIAM) solution called TheAccessHub OneView. We are taking all of the core capabilities of the Enterprise Edition and fine-tuning it to address the customer-specific needs that organizations have, including GDPR, CCPA and consumer transparency. Organizations are increasingly looking to analyse customer behavior across all channels to better target their products and services. Consider omnichannel retail where a customer may make in-store purchases, they may use a loyalty card, they might even purchase on their phone with a mobile coupon they received. Organizations are using Identity to bring together all that customer interaction so they can more effectively target products and services to that unique customer in a personalized way.

We’re also developing a new product specifically for the healthcare industry – an integration of TheAccessHub with Microsoft FaceAPI. It has built-in escalation, notification and collaboration tools. There are so many potential applications for this new product, even beyond healthcare.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We expect to realize our vision of Autonomous Identity Governance over the next several years. With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and machine learning, and an increasingly regulated environment, people will continue to demand more control over their privacy. Organizations will follow suit to build customer loyalty through transparency and trust. The Blockchain is likely to factor in as a technology to help enable this.

It’s going to be exciting because there will be so much connectivity – smart cities, smart cars, more wearable tech – our relationship with the internet is going to change pretty dramatically! There will be a proliferation of connected devices – but all of those devices need to be secured.

Jay O’Donnell: An Entrepreneur at Heart

Jay O’Donnell is an internationally-recognized expert in information security, compliance, identity management, federated identity and directory services. He is driven by the goal of helping businesses across the globe realize the vision of Autonomous Identity Governance™ with AI-driven Identity solutions.

One of the early pioneers of the IAM industry, Jay founded Entry Port in 2000; that company eventually became N8 Identity. Prior to founding N8 Identity, Jay was a Principal at Sierra Systems Group and a Managing Consultant at Compugen.

“Our mission is to help organizations realize the vision of autonomous identity governance that helps them improve their overall security posture while operating with trust, transparency and integrity.”