The definition of Customer Identity and Access Management, (Customer IAM, CIAM) – is a multi-dimensional concept, making it seem a bit intimidating for beginners. CIAM is many things and enables many substantial benefits to customer-focused businesses. This blog goes back to basics, (almost) without TLAs, and defines what is Customer IAM and what can CIAM provide to your business.
The core of CIAM – identity
As the name implies, Customer IAM (CIAM) is all about your customers. It’s about creating a seamless, secure experience across digital services and devices, by putting the customer’s identity at the beginning of their journey with you no matter if they’re engaging with you on mobile, web or other channel.
It’s no surprise that at the very core of Customer IAM are the customer identities; how to capture and manage them securely; and controlling customer access to your applications and services. CIAM is about knowing who your customer is and making their lives as easy and convenient as possible, without sacrificing security, when they move through your services and as you capture privacy-enabled profile data.
Before we dive into the many features of CIAM, let’s answer a common question…
CIAM – is it Consumer or Customer IAM?
What does CIAM actually stand for? Is it Customer or Consumer IAM? What’s the difference? Well, it’s both. It depends on your type of business and your customers. The biggest differences between Customer and Consumer IAM are in the use cases and whether the focus is on B2B or B2C. Do you have consumers or customers or both? Consumer IAM is a subcategory of Customer IAM, serving B2C only. Customer IAM serves both B2B and B2C identity management use cases, and that’s why Ubisecure tends to use Customer IAM – because it covers them both.
CIAM gives customers a single identity
At the core of Customer IAM is understanding your customers behaviour and how to manage your customer/consumer identities. CIAM is about enabling an effortless user journey, without sacrificing security and data protection. How can this be done? By starting with a single identity for your users and Single Sign-On (SSO). SSO is the idea of allowing your customer to use a single identity, or already-existing identity, to access your services. One set of user credentials for multiple applications. You can even let your customers access your partner businesses services with the same identity, without any extra logins. Or let them use third party identity providers like social identities to make the authentication process even simpler.
The idea of single identity takes the pressure of re-authenticating and remembering multiple account credentials, and makes the customer experience simple and easy. Less password fatigue, less likelihood of passwords being written down or reused. Not to mention the cost savings for businesses in password and identity management, centralised policy control and improved risk mitigation.
CIAM gives you a better security posture
A good CIAM solution will provide you with more usable, and more secure ways to handle customer registration, log-in and engagement with services at a much larger scale than traditional internal IAM. They’ll simplify how you use protocols like SAML, OpenID Connect and OAuth to manage Single Sign-On (SSO) and authorization. They’ll offer privacy features like consent and preference management, and let you employ Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) where extra trust in identity assurance is needed.
Making an appropriate protocol choice is important – for more detailed reading check out our popular blog on SAML vs OAuth.
CIAM takes your organization to the next level of digital transformation
Now we have the basics down, let’s take a look at what makes CIAM unique. What if you could have a solution that gives your customers more freedom over their own accounts and at the same time increases your security level? Customer IAM enables self-service user management. You can enable your customers, external contractors and partners to manage their own identities, identity attributes, and to assign roles to those identities. This will remove your user management admin, improve customer satisfaction, ensure better compliance (think GDPR), improve loyalty and trust due to transparency, reduce costs and improve security – to name just some of the benefits!
The trick is to allow your customer organisation to take control of the identities you have for them. Your customer can invite people into the site, activate new services through self-service functions, authorise their own users properly, or even authorise people from other organisations to represent them in the service. This can be site specific or on a project-by-project basis. Your customers, partners and stakeholders will also maintain accurate information about their identity attributes by themselves, taking a yet another layer of identity management off your desk. Empower your customers via digital transformation.
Digitalisation in a single solution
To sum up, Customer IAM offer many business benefits that make sure your customers are at the heart of your business. But this doesn’t mean that you have to change everything at once – start where you feel comfortable and scale your business needs to match your level of digital maturity. If you’re unsure of your options, our free white paper on digital maturity can answer some of your burning questions.
Getting started with CIAM
For an in depth understanding of CIAM features, take a look at our Customer IAM solution page. Ubisecure CIAM can be deployed in the Cloud, as software on-premise, or in a pre-configured Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) SaaS offering. If you’re ready to get started quickly, Ubisecure’s IDaaS solution can dramatically reduce the time to add core IAM functionality to applications and services. It’s a good place to start and allows developers to embed SSO + MFA + Identity Provider integration into applications with minimal effort.
To discuss your project and learn more about how Ubisecure CIAM can help you meet your business goals, send us a demo request. After all, your customers are your most crucial assets.