How CIAM Creates a 360-Degree View of the Customer

Each of us has multiple identities — personal, consumer, business-related, etc. To his family, a man might simply be “Sam,” but to his employer, Sam is a complex array of user IDs, passwords, and access privileges. Identity and access management (IAM) provides a disciplined approach for the creation, maintenance, and use of those digital identities. It integrates business processes with the supporting technology needed to effectively manage end-user attributes, credentials, and entitlements throughout the enterprise.

The identities associated with Sam the consumer pose a unique set of challenges, however. Sam can interact with a commercial website anonymously, and even make a one-time purchase without divulging much information. It’s only when Sam registers with the website that the business can begin collecting demographic and psychographic data on Sam as a customer.

Customer identity and access management (CIAM) is the foundational technology for transforming anonymous online visitors into known and loyal customers. In many ways, CIAM is much like IAM. It handles user registration and authentication across internal and third-party applications. It manages the digital identities of customers so they can make purchases and gain access to the information they need. Ideally, it provides a seamless user experience while protecting the customer’s privacy and keeping sensitive data secure.

But CIAM is also about building rich customer profiles that improve outcomes for marketing, sales, service, and product development. It transforms a simple user entitlement into a powerful tool for synchronizing customer data across multiple business processes so an organization can gain a better understanding of the customer’s preferences and deliver a more personalized experience.

The need for personalized, one-to-one marketing is driving demand for end-to-end CIAM solutions that create a unified customer identity. According to a recent survey by Forrester Research, 61 percent of organizations had implemented or were implementing or expanding their use of CIAM, and another 20 percent planned to implement CIAM within the next 12 months.

Improving the security of customer-facing applications and services was rated as a high or critical priority by 71 percent of survey respondents. Many CIAM solutions can block brute-force login attempts, and vendors are adding features to detect fraudulent accounts and meet increasing privacy requirements by giving customers more fine-grained control over how organizations use their data.

In addition, CIAM solutions include reporting and analytics tools and integrate with customer relationship management and marketing automation solutions to provide insight into customer needs and behavior. CIAM solutions also enable customers to log in via a recognized social media platform (bring-your-own-identity), eliminating the need to create a new account.

In part, CIAM solutions are meant to contend with profile-related issues arising from continued use of legacy systems. Many companies developed their websites years ago, before the rise of mobile, social, and omnichannel marketing initiatives. In those days, programmers built homegrown user registration and login screens for capturing credentials and facilitating access to the site. As other marketing tools were added, separate registration pages were developed. The data was never effectively integrated, so customer profiles became fragmented. Today, thanks to CIAM, such fragmentation can be resolved, resulting in unified profiles that can be better used to improve customer experiences and engagement.

Getting a consumer to visit a website is one thing. Transforming that consumer into an engaged and loyal customer is something else entirely. Disconnected homegrown tools for collecting and managing customer identities are proving ineffective in today’s highly competitive business environment. CIAM solutions can streamline the user experience, increase security and privacy, and develop a 360-degree view of the customer that enables the kinds of insights that drive business success.


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