According to Forrester, this decade marks the beginning of the Age of the Customer, a twenty-year business cycle in which empowered buyers demand a new level of excellence from brands 1. Winning businesses will focus on improving customer experiences. An essential component of accomplishing this is securing and managing customer identities.
Customer identity and access management (CIAM) requires capabilities that are entirely different than traditional workforce identity management. In addition to the larger number of customer identities compared to employees and partners, ensuring availability, security and privacy regulatory compliance is more complex in customer use cases, particularly in omnichannel digital business. CIAM is a critical strategic tool for helping marketing and business leaders drive top-line growth by delivering personalized customer experiences across multiple channels, apps and devices.
Many organizations are limited by build-it-yourself and legacy workforce IAM systems that can't handle the scale and complexity of CIAM. That's why IT leaders are looking at purpose-built CIAM solutions that can support digital business initiatives like launching new customer-facing apps, personalizing offers and services, improving data security, and capturing and adhering to customer privacy and communication preferences.
With such a long and varied list of demanding capabilities needed for CIAM, how do you know what to look for in a solution? How should businesses weigh their options? Forrester analyst Merritt Maxim 2 shares four key considerations that business and IT leaders should keep in mind as they evaluate CIAM solutions:
Know Your Customer This is good advice no matter what customer-facing project you take on. But it's particularly important when planning a CIAM deployment because this knowledge helps shape your architecture. Depending on your business, your customer base has unique characteristics that influence how they use different digital channels and services. What devices do your customers prefer? What services do they value most? Are they frequent mobile app users? Are they active on social media? Are there opportunities for context-driven offers? Consider these questions, and the answers will help you prioritize your need for CIAM features like identity APIs, self-service preference management and social login capabilities. You can then develop a checklist of non-negotiable features to evaluate different solutions.
Balance Usability with Security In the past, securing workforce identities involved locking down access at the perimeter of your data center. In digital business, securing customer identities is vastly more complex because there is no perimeter. Security risks increase and so does the demand for frictionless user experiences across a wide array of channels, apps and devices. Fortunately, there are CIAM solutions that can enforce security best practices AND improve conversion rates.
Plan for Scale Managing customer identities requires the ability to handle data at extreme scale. The number of identities and the data associated with customer profiles can easily reach billions of data points. Plus, seasonal traffic spikes create dramatic fluctuations in required capacity. Make sure the CIAM solution you're considering can support a large user base and can ramp up quickly to handle high-volume demand peaks without any degradation in performance.
Plan for Omnichannel The number of devices, channels and apps that customers are using to engage with businesses is growing exponentially. Companies need to securely and consistently serve customer identity data to an increasing number of touchpoints. Best practices like centralized data management, gaining a single view of the customer across data silos and real-time data sync are important to factor into your implementation strategy.
Deploying any new solution in your data management ecosystem is a large undertaking. But the stakes are particularly high when it comes to CIAM, which plays a critical role in determining the success of your digital transformation strategies. The consequences for poorly managing and securing customer identities are frustrating customer experiences and security breaches that damage the brand. But getting it right can boost top-line growth and pave the way for future innovation. To help you find the right solution for your enterprise, check out our CIAM Buyer's Guide.