Virtually every company today gives its customers electronic access to their data - that is a given. It's not good enough any longer to rely on an enterprise identity and access management system. There's too much at stake. Preventing customer data breaches - and staying out of the headlines - begins with a purpose-built customer identity and access management (CIAM) solution.
Convinced you need CIAM but don't know where to begin? Your first step is to build a business case, driven by business objectives, that will allow you to demonstrate the expected value of your CIAM investment. With the business case in place, you're armed to go to business leaders and influential employees and get them to buy in. (Easier said than done.) Then, you start the selection process. But... we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Identity-Powered Customer Experiences
There are lots of different entry points and initiatives that can generate business value depending on your specific business needs and objectives. Case in point: Wawa Inc., a well-loved quick-service restaurant/gas station on the east coast.
As recounted by Eric Barnes, Wawa application development manager, the company's increasingly mobile customer base resulted in a growing number of touchpoints across multiple channels, devices and applications. The business objective was to continue to provide customers exceptional experiences on their smartphones, tablets and laptops.
With smart-phone adoption growing, Wawa's team was looking to create a mobile app that offers customers convenience in finding different locations via GPS, the ability to check fuel prices in real-time, pay for purchases, and earn loyalty and rewards based on their purchasing history. Wawa was frustrated with trying to make its enterprise identity solution stretch to fit customer identity and access. With a massive increase in credential and attribute data driven by mobile app usage, their enterprise system just couldn't hack it.
Wawa's business case essentially boiled down to the need to consistently deliver great customer experiences at scale. In order to do that, Wawa's identity management architecture needed to enable its strategic initiatives -- today and tomorrow.
"Brands that fail to proactively respond to the shifts in consumer behavior will face some pretty significant headwinds as they try and engage with their customers," says Emeka Obianwu, VP Channels & Alliances, UnboundID. "The result is negative customer experiences that undermine brand loyalty." Rather than let that happen, Wawa elected to buy a CIAM solution that protects customer information while improving the customer experience.
As the Wawa story illustrates, defining your business objectives up front will narrow your focus and ensure you're looking at the right solutions. The top three business challenges typically driving the need for CIAM solutions are:
Delivering a richer set of customer offerings. You need a fluid customer experience across internal and external applications delivered via multiple web properties and mobile applications.
The need to bring multiple web properties under a single parent brand (business partners or recently acquired units) with varying levels of authentication.
The need for mobile application development and delivery. Centralized CIAM capabilities support a unified view of customers across all business units, giving unified customer experience across disparate applications/properties.