This guest blog is from our partners at CGI, a leading global IT and business consulting services firm.

This is the first part of our Customer IAM and CRM blog series. In this series we give insights on how Customer IAM and CRM link together, what are the benefits and what else should be taken into consideration. In this first part we compare IGA and CIAM, give insights on the evolution of IAM and how CRM relates to it.

Where it all started – IAM

Identity and Access Management – IAM – has been part of the IT space and in the scope of CIOs for two decades, at least. During that time, the market has evolved significantly. In the early days, a typical IAM project was very identity management and governance centric. And, more importantly, the central focus was on employees – internal workforce users accessing internal enterprise systems, typically from their own workstations. This IAM segment, albeit also much evolved, still exists and is today called IGA for Identity Governance and Administration.

Customer IAM

Today we identify another clear segment within IAM, which is partly similar, but partly very different from IGA. That is Customer IAM – CIAM. Many translate the CIAM acronym to mean Consumer IAM, but as that would imply leaving one very important part of CIAM out, i.e. all the B2B use cases, we prefer the broader approach. For us CIAM embraces both your consumer as well as business customers and, in fact, your partners also. Customer IAM covers all your external stakeholders and who you interact with across external-facing online services and content. Those CIAM-protected services support your core business while engaging with your customers. To learn more on what is CIAM – read this blog.

IAM vs CIAM: relationship management

Where IGA is tightly linked with HR (Human Resources) management systems to benefit from efficient employee identity management (e.g. the on/off boarding process, access management, enabling up-to-date employee attributes, such as position in the company), there’s a clear differentiation to Customer IAM.  The equivalent linkage from the Customer IAM side would be CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, but it’s not always as tight and obvious a pairing as with IAM and HR.

CRM systems are used to manage customer relationships and nurture them across the whole lifecycle. Whereas CIAM provides the customer with smooth and secure authorised access to the services and information the customer needs. CIAM keeps particularly good track of the very valuable and highly confidential customer identity information and the identity related attributes. Often, when Customer IAM solutions are deployed, one of the backend integrations might be to the CRM to provide the CIAM with identities and attributes stemming from the CRM, or to trigger the creation of new identities in the CIAM system when there is a new customer contract generated in the CRM. As a conclusion, we could say that Customer IAM complements CRM, making it possible not only to maintain a customer relationship but also to provide the customer with the right access at the right time to services and information.

Even though there are a lot of similarities between IGA and HR compared to CIAM and CRM, the scale of their respective operations and the fact that external users get to choose what services they are using, how and where they engage and (e.g.) how they authenticate, makes the situation wholly different. Where IAM and HR integration is almost essential, CIAM and CRM solutions can function without linking the two. Nevertheless, the benefits of doing so are clear.


It’s clear why IGA and HR go hand in hand. As we’ve seen, linking CIAM with your CRM system should be as obvious pairing. Where linking HR with your IGA solution enables efficient employee identity and life cycle management, companies should take advantage of equivalent benefits by linking their Customer IAM solution with their CRM, especially when customers or partners are at the core of your business. Enabling great user experience, ease of use and providing better services due to up-to-date user information in a secure manner are critical to any company.

Find out more about linking your CIAM and CRM systems – get in touch with CGI.