Customer Identity and Access Management – Why is it important?

Customer Identity and Access Management

Roy H Williams once quoted, “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” Today, when customers engage with the brand, they expect nothing but a great customer experience. Customers don’t shy away from switching brands at the of blink an eye should they encounter a dissatisfactory customer experience.

It would be fair to say that most organizations today have understood the importance of serving their customers well and have embraced absolute customer-centricity. While organizations strive to provide seamless customer experience with glitch-free product/service, excellent customer service, understanding buyer personas, etc. One major concern — cyber threats — disrupts the entire customer experience. So, organizations are turning towards Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM).

What is Customer Identity and Access Management?

As organizations embrace digitalization, customers’ interaction with the business generally happens online. Also, the customer information and database are stored in the digital environment. Customers are given access to engage with the brand and extract information that is relevant to them.

Here’s an example—

A bank encourages its customers to opt for mobile and internet banking. The customer must create an account and log in to that account every time she wants to make an online transaction, check her balance, or avail her monthly financial statement. Of course, with mobile banking, the customer will enjoy better and faster banking services. But what if the account is hacked due to stolen credentials and an unauthorized party gets access to all the critical information? This is exactly where Customer Identity and Access Management comes into the picture.

In cyberspace, Identity and Access Management (IAM) is very popular, known to enhance an organization’s security posture by providing solutions such as Single Sign-On, MFA, Directory Service, Access Management, Identity Governance, etc. Essentially, CIAM is an identity management system that directs all these solutions specifically to the “Customer” identity and data.

According to Gartner, key CIAM features include self-service for registration, password and consent management, profile generation and management, authentication and authorization into applications, identity repositories, reporting and analytics, APIs and SDKs for mobile applications, and social identity registration and login.

Let’s understand the advantages CIAM brings to the organization and, most importantly, the customer.

What are the benefits of Customer Identity and Access Management?

  1. Optimal security of data and accounts: Customer accounts and data are secured with stringent authentication mechanisms such as MFA/2FA, a process that verifies multiple independent credentials that are unique to the customers. Accounts secured with MFA/2FA create multiple security barriers that unauthorized intruders cannot overcome easily.
  2. Streamlined Experience: CIAM streamlines the process so that your customers have a secure yet seamless transaction with your business. For instance, with Single Sign-On, the customer is spared from logging into different accounts and different devices each time he wants to avail a service. SSO eases the login process and gives secure access to customers in one go from any browser or device.
  3. Better Customer Service: You don’t just track the customer’s journey and transaction patterns with your business; you also get a clear, consolidated view of the same. This data can be used to understand the buyer’s persona, his/her frequency of interaction with the brand, strategize customer retention plans, etc. This further enhances the customer service capabilities of your organization.
  4. Customer Consent Management: It certainly is crucial to protect the customer identity and data from potential cyber-attacks but it is also important for the customers to know what information is gathered and protected and they need to consent for the same. CIAM solutions are compliant with the GDPR regulation wherein consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. In order to obtain freely given consent, it must be given on a voluntary basis.

The Future of CIAM

According to John Tolbert, lead analyst at KuppingerCole, “CIAM is not going away and many organizations are starting to realize the value of better-targeted marketing as well as different kinds of regulatory compliance,”.

Also, it is said that the CIAM market is expected to grow from USD 16.00 billion in 2018 to USD 37.79 billion by 2023!

Finally, as Jerry Gregoire, CIO, Dell, quotes “The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” So, deploying a robust CIAM solution is a step in the right direction to achieve exceptional customer experience and get your customers talking about how your brand cares about customers’ identity and data protection.

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