The definition of CIAM (Customer Identity & Access Management) – is a multi-dimensional concept. This blog goes back to basics and defines what is CIAM and what can CIAM provide to your business.
The core of CIAM – identity
Ubisecure has been developing and deploying CIAM for many years. We’ll share our experience of this specialist subset of Identity & Access Management.
As the name implies, 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.
At the core of CIAM are the customer identities, specifically how you capture and manage digital identities securely, and then how you control 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, while improving security and privacy, when they move through your services and as you capture privacy-enabled profile data.
CIAM makes it simpler to add Identity Management capabilities to your applications. Features will include many as-a-service capabilities like SSO (Single Sign-On), customer registration, multi-factor authentication (MFA), access management and authorisation, identity directories, and identity data governance and privacy/consent controls. Combined, CIAM capabilities help applications deliver a better, and more secure user experience.
Before we take a deeper look into the business benefits of CIAM, let’s answer a common question…
CIAM – is it Customer, Consumer or Citizen IAM?
It’s all of those, and more. It depends on your type of business and your customers. The biggest differences between Customer, Consumer and Citizen IAM are in the use cases and whether the focus is on B2B, B2C or G2C. Consumer IAM is a subcategory of Customer IAM, serving B2C only. The same applies to Citizen IAM and G2C use cases. Customer IAM serves all B2B and B2C identity management use cases, and that’s why Ubisecure aligns with analysts like Gartner and uses Customer IAM – because it covers all use cases.
Improve your customer experience and marketing
Using Customer IAM allows applications to deliver a standardised, user friendly customer registration and login experience. It should allow service providers to accept their customer’s existing digital identities, like Google, Facebook, Bank IDs and more. It should make registering for a service quick and easy and frictionless. Repeat visitors should have a standard, branded and familiar login screen that implements and provides clear access control and password policy. If multi-factor authentication is used, it should be frictionless. CIAM can provide all these advantages to the important conversion KPIs tracked by marketing.
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.
Gain a better security posture
A good Customer IAM 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 authorisation. 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.
Take your organisation to the next level of digital transformation
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 and CCPA), improve loyalty and trust due to transparency, reduce costs and improve security – to name just some of the benefits!
It’s essential 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.
Demonstrating the ROI of a good CIAM solution
CIAM can significantly impact both your top and bottom lines. As a long-time European CIAM provider we’ve seen Government bodies reduce manual workflow costs by 99% with CIAM, and telecoms providers save seven figures when using Customer IAM capabilities effectively.
A separate blog provides an introduction to the ROI of CIAM, with more detail and financial statistics available in our free white paper written directly for the budget holders (download here – Customer Identity and Access Management: Investment and ROI).
Getting started with CIAM
For an in depth understanding of Customer IAM 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 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 or sign up for a free IDaaS trial (SaaS IAM). After all, your customers are your most crucial assets.
About The Author: Minttu Junikka
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