The Cost of Customer Identity & Access Management (CIAM)

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is essentially a set of tools that allow your business to securely authenticate, manage and engage customers who are consuming products and services through your applications.

Historically, customer identity has not always been top of mind when it comes to business-driving initiatives. Identity was simply a feature of the application, maybe a table or directory that stored user information. It was just there, without much need to think about it.

Fast forward to present day and things have changed dramatically. Customers have now come to expect that their own preferences (likes, dislikes, purchase history) be integrated into the CX (customer experience), and the customer identity has found itself at the center of that experience.

In the past, applications that stretched across multiple LOBs (Line of Business) often required separate accounts or identities, which created unnecessary friction with each sign-in, or registration. Concepts such as BYOI (Bring-Your-Own-Identity) and secure omni-channel SSO (single-sign-on) are removing entry barriers and allowing for customer engagement, resulting in customers spending more.

Another thing that has changed significantly is where these efforts are being led internally. They are no longer confined to only the IT organization. A recent study has revealed that nearly 20% of the largest 2,500 public companies have added a new member to the C-Suite, the CDO, Chief Digital Officer, a position unheard-of just a few years ago.

Companies that execute a successful digital transformation strategy from the top down see revenues rise, while those without a mature digital strategy are getting left behind. Harvard Business Review has sized up the top 1,000 U.S. companies for “digital strength” and found those with digital transformation success are seeing revenues rise an average of 9.6%. Digital transformation is being driven by CX and CIAM is becoming the foundation required for both.

My customers need a place to sign-in, anything else?

Sign-in is a given, but your customers need to navigate your platform efficiently and, whether they know it or not, they expect certain fundamental features to be there. They expect security, and they expect a seamless end-user experience.

If it’s too difficult to navigate entry into your applications, they’re likely to take their account somewhere else. Below are four ways to increase access security for your customers without impacting their experience.

  1. Secure Authentication & Authorization

First and foremost, your customers need to authenticate securely, with granular controls to ensure access based on what the customer is authorized to perform or view. Enforce Zero Trust Security to verify a customer is who they say they are.

  1. Data Protection

For the sake of your business and brand, customer data must be safeguarded, period. Make regulatory and compliance requirements like EU GDPR easier by localizing customer data to specific regions or countries. Automate user consent to give your customers control of their own data and streamline “opt-in” capability to allow customers to add devices or mechanisms for multi-factor-authentication. Give your customers tools to manage their own profile data, disable or deactivate accounts.

  1. Registration & Social Login

If the customer does not already have an online profile, they will need methods to efficiently create one, ensuring the process does not cause unnecessary friction or degrade CX. To increase traffic to your platform, you may choose to offer social login authentication which can later be converted to a more central and verifiable identity.

  1. Consolidated Identity & Account Claiming

Your customers may be accessing your platform through a variety of channels across multiple products or services. Disjointed accounts and separate logins across various applications prevent your business from truly connecting with your customers. For customers already doing business with your organization, you need to be able to recognize plural accounts and allow customers to claim which ones they own, associating them to a single customer identity.

My app developers can handle all of this, right?

Only if they have the tools and services to extend their applications. Tools that not only get the job done but help move your time-to-market across the finish line quickly.

Developers working on customer engagement and digital transformation projects need the following to be successful:

Scalability & High Availability

Developers need identity services they can count on. If your customers can’t login, they can’t do business. Elite CIAM solutions let developers focus on delivering value to the platform, not estimating peak traffic or calculating login performance for millions of users.

Extensible APIs & Open Standards

Embed identity services into any platform or application, regardless of the technology stack or programming language. Code to industry proven standards such as OAuth2.0, OpenID Connect and SAML.

Mobile-Ready Services

More than ever, companies are engaging with their customers through mobile applications. CIAM services must extend the same capability whether consumed via web or mobile. Get your mobile app to market faster with SDKs, code samples and interactive reference material.

Analytics & Reporting

Developers need to extend their applications to provide IAM services to their customers, but they also need things like REST APIs exposed for analytics and reporting. Implement services that take advantage of machine learning, allow your identity solution to adapt to user behavior without having to change code. Give the business real time reporting insights to answer critical questions. Understand when and where customers are engaging with your platform and validate the business strategy against its effectiveness.

CIAM: The Bottom Line

No strategic initiative is immune to the age-old question, “how much will it cost?”

Organizations embarking on digital transformation projects should be asking that question and more at the very outset.

  • How much will it cost the business if we fail to provide our customers an experience that gets them truly engaged?
  • How much will it cost if it’s too cumbersome for our customers to access our products and services?
  • How much will it cost if our platform is breached or if customer data is compromised?

A Ponemon Data Breach Impact Study reveals that more than 30% of impacted consumers are likely to discontinue their relationship with an organization that has experienced a breach. The report also cites an average stock price drop of 5% after a breach event is announced.

Security-first CIAM solutions give your customers peace of mind as well as the smooth experience they expect, all while reducing your risk and keeping your competition in the rear-view mirror.