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A Comprehensive Look at How CIAM Can Enhance the Customer Security and Experience

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A Comprehensive Look at How CIAM Can Enhance the Customer Security and Experience

Did you know that you can now implement a smarter, safer, and more engaging customer experience for your end-users with CIAM? Here’s how.

Deciphering CIAM

CIAM stands for customer/consumer Identity and Access Management. While some may see it as an extension of Identity and Access Management (IAM), it goes beyond the conventional IAM framework.

The recent boom of consumer applications and the consumer-centric experience has forced IAM solutions to redefine how they handle external or customer data from an authentication and authorization perspective.

Over the years, customer expectations and behavior have changed considerably. The customer is now more aware of privacy issues. When they interact with products and services, they are looking for a secure and seamless experience. CIAM plays a crucial role in building your brand perception by addressing these changing demands.

Traditional IAM Solutions

IAM solutions may have been developed for authentication and access management for an organization’s employees or suppliers. It is a critical aspect of the security infrastructure of an organization.

Now, a robust IAM solution will typically have the following elements:

  1. Identity verification and registration
  2. Data and user management
  3. Authentication
  4. Analytics and dashboarding

As you must have realized, IAM solutions are designed to solve authentications problems and role-based access control (RABC). Innovations in this area are still more focused on the workforce and do not cater to consumer-centric applications.

Leading the Change with Customer-facing Applications

With customer-facing applications, products, and services, the game is more complex. These apps have to deal with new-age problems that traditional IAM solutions were not designed to solve.

Take a look at some of these key challenges:

  1. Privacy and data security: Privacy concerns are rising as users want their data protected at all costs. A single breach can translate into brand erosion and loss of user base.
  2. Compliances: The system has to deal with different statutory regulations and industry compliances such as GDPR in various geographies.
  3. Scale: Even small products with small teams have millions of users. Solutions need to cater to various endpoints and a large amount of data In a different architecture. One needs to consider the operational costs of such solutions.
  4. User experience: The user experience is the most important goal, but it must be simple and straightforward. The platform-centric approach is an excellent example of one type of UX challenge faced. Think of a financial company providing products around loans, banking, trading, and mutual funds to the same consumer. Asking the consumer to remember credentials for each application can be cumbersome for both the customers and the company. Instead, the registration, authentication, and data storage/retrieval methods should be secure yet simple.
  5. Integration with business systems: As you deal with customer data, several systems such as CRMs and web analytics come into the picture. These systems have to work closely with user authentication.

The time has come to look at CIAM in isolation and not as a mere extension of IAM. Here’s what you can do.

CIAM: At the Confluence of Traditional IAM and User Management

CIAM combines conventional IAM with user management to address the considerations mentioned above and challenges. Introducing the following features can help CIAM cater to customer-centric concerns:

  1. Consent management and profiling enables you to monitor consents and regulations
  2. Customer self-service allows users to sign up for your offerings quickly in a DIY manner,ut you still need it to be secure
  3. Business system integration connects CIAM to several business systems such as CRMs and analytics
  4. Identity verification system integration combines document scanning, OCRs, and verification with authentication agencies to enable remote identity verification in the post-pandemic phase
  5. Self-registration using pre-existing information through social profiles leverages protocols like OpenID and OpenID Connect so that products or services can use social profiles to register or authenticate users conveniently
  6. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) was only applicable for employees earlier, but now it adds an extra layer of security for the users
  7. Standardization using protocols for authentication ensures security
  8. Identity analytics for consumers helps you analyze consumer usage and conversion ratios and similar insights into your consumers’ behavior
  9. Risk-based authentication mechanisms handle security attacks on consumers
Bridging and Boosting the Customer Experience

As users’ demands for data security, privacy, and a smooth user experience increase, the imminent need for CIAM is evident. Not only is this required to cater to modern security demands, but it can also provide a seamless user experience. The shift from IAM to CIAM is a necessity to achieve the best of both worlds.

Many industry leaders’ products already specialize in CIAM, while other existing IAM products like Microsoft Azure, IBM, and OneLogin are already adding large-scale CIAM features. Players like Salesforce have customer management as one of their core strengths, as others like Auth0 are developed by keeping CIAM at the center.


The blog was originally posted on GS Lab’s Website. 

Mrinal Srivastava, Customer Success Manager at GS Lab