As the worlds of technology and commerce become increasingly intertwined, ensuring positive digital customer experiences becomes more and more crucial for businesses of all sizes and sectors.  

The key to achieving this? Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM).    

Like conventional Identity and Access Management, CIAM tools authorise system access requests by different users. However, rather than just managing authorisation for accounts within the same organisation, CIAM focuses on interpreting, storing and protecting data that originates from external users — typically companies’ or private individual digital customers.   

And it is not just application access management that CIAM delivers. From building detailed, accurate customer profiles for personalised user experiences to improving cyber security, these frameworks offer several valuable functions to drive business growth…  

Boosting cyber security 

Customer data can be hugely valuable for companies but can also become a liability in the wrong hands. A breach could leave multiple systems and accounts vulnerable to hackers, so it is vital to secure customer profiles at the first point of entry: login.    

That is where CIAM comes in. CIAM is primarily concerned with ensuring users get the appropriate level of access to websites, applications and services. It involves deploying secure authentication technologies such as conditional access or multi-factor authentication (MFA). Conditional access persists user behavioural data to score the risk associated with access and will even block implausible scenarios (login in London and an hour later in New York). Conditional access is also the first step in offering customers passwordless authentication. MFA which requires users to provide multiple forms of verification to access resources and can reduce the risk of a security breach by 75%.  MFA can be used in conjunction with conditional access, so that where the risk exceeds an acceptable level then, you can challenge the user with MFA. 

Modern CIAM solutions will also help defend against account takeover attacks, credential stuffing and other brute-force attacks, which involve a bad actor flooding a single account with multiple login attempts and crashing sites.   

By providing these protections, companies and their customers can rest assured that sensitive data is shielded from hacking attempts and that the impacts of a successful attack will be contained.    

Ensuring reactive scalability

Conventional workplace IAM solutions are incredibly effective — but they only manage a set list of preassigned access rights and applications.   

These static frameworks are unsuitable for handling ever-growing and complex user identities in the unpredictable virtual retail space. E-commerce has been on a sharp incline since the pandemic, expected to increase by 19% in 2023 alone. So, online retailers must ensure their CIAM solutions can handle millions — even billions — of customer interactions and accounts at the drop of a hat.  

An adequate CIAM infrastructure can scale with business growth, providing a centralised platform for identity management during peak times (such as holidays and sale periods) and ensuring consistently seamless user experiences.  

So, businesses can say goodbye to expensive, inefficient and inflexible legacy systems and rest assured that their authorisation and access solutions will remain agile — no matter how volatile things get.  

Simplifying user experiences  

Prioritising customer experiences can help to build brand loyalty, increase engagement and improve conversion rates. So, how can CIAM help businesses achieve this?  

Customers have come to expect applications to be slick and frictionless, being instantly turned off by clunky websites and sign-in processes. Enter CIAM…  

Open Banking standards give CIAM solutions a competitive edge, where the practice allows consumer-initiated, secured and explicitly approved data sharing among financial institutions, investment companies, and third-party financial service providers. 

Social login enables a user to provide preauthorised information, such as an address, all while authenticating using social login credentials (apple ID, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). 

Hyper-personalisation communications deliver an advanced form of personalised messaging to help upsell and cross-sell based on complex data science modelling linking behaviour and identity. 

Authorisation tokens that allow for seamless integration of APIs and other applications to deliver a sophisticated cross-application, cross-channel user experience.  

With versatile security features like MFA and single sign-on (SSO), which allows users to securely access multiple linked but independent platforms through a single set of credentials, CIAM can deliver efficiency and security in one neat package.   

Another advantage of CIAM is the insights it can give into customer behaviour. Over time, CIAM platforms collect detailed user data such as experience ratings, preferences and demographics information that can be used to provide personalised deals and recommendations — all of which will help improve customer relations and increase sales.  

Enabling privacy compliance  

Data security is the term on everyone’s lips in the digital age. And with volumes of customer data increasing by the minute, ensuring tight data protection and regulation processes should be a top priority for all business owners.  

The more information people share online, the more there is at stake — and every company has a responsibility to ensure they are collecting, processing and storing customer data securely and compliantly.  

CIAM is the cornerstone of data compliance in customer facing systems. From ensuring controlled access and encrypting personal data to obtaining managed consent for data usage, CIAM systems are critical for maintaining security controls effectiveness and customer relationships — while adhering to stringent privacy laws such as the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018.  

Not only is it essential to secure customer data for the end user’s privacy, but doing so also protects organisations from potential breaches — and ensures they will not face hefty fines for non-compliance.  

Some businesses may attempt to manage customer data in-house. But with data privacy laws changing so rapidly in today’s cyber landscape, experts recommend outsourcing these services to a CIAM specialist that can ensure every system is always up to grade…  

Is your organisation yet to implement a robust CIAM framework? Burning Tree works with several IAM specialists and partners that provide industry-leading support for businesses’ CIAM needs — contact us at 01252 843014 or to learn more.