Consumer Identity and Access Management (CIAM), is still a relatively young technology but is increasingly becoming a must-have for customer-centric businesses. CIAM sets the foundation for an organisation to deliver great experiences, while striking a balance between convenience and security.

According to PwC’s Experience is Everything report, 73% of people agree that good experience is key to their brand loyalty and 52% would spend more for a fast and efficient experience. It’s clear what customers want: a convenient, omni-channel, personalised and secure experience. And if you’re unable to deliver this to your customers, it’s likely they’ll find a brand that will.

A seamless business enabler

CIAM must be able to securely capture and manage customer identity and profile data, as well as control customer access to applications, systems and services. However, as the solution that manages your customer interactions – many of which are outside of your direct control – it should primarily be seen as a business enabler.

Engagement such as registration, consent and preference management requires the need for a customer to be able to manage their own identities to some extent. The best CIAM platforms deliver a seamless, secure experience that is consistent across devices and touchpoints, enabling your customer to engage with you in the way that best suits them.

According to the Consumer Barometer with Google, Australians have an average of four connected devices per person, which makes delivering a consistent experience a complex challenge. No longer do we just need to think about desktop and laptop computers or tablets; the broader range of IoT-enabled devices is expanding and it’s something businesses need to be aware of as part of this equation.

Omni-channel customer experience

Customer experience often begins with a registration process that can be carried across multiple devices, establishing credentials that work across channels. Using multiple logins for different channels and devices creates friction in the customer’s experience that will quickly lead to customer frustration and potentially a loss in business.

Many organisations today allow for social login – such as Google or Facebook – which reduces registration fatigue. Once registered, the customer should receive consistent engagement across channels with the lowest possible friction authentication.

Single customer view

Organisations have been collecting data on their customers for years, however this data is often siloed across repositories and departments, making it difficult to use. CIAM platforms provide data on your customers’ identities and behaviours, enabling the creation of an extensive profile on each individual customer, including their identity details, purchase histories and usage, and buying trends.

The platform allows you to bring all the data together into a single view of the customer, which can then be fed into other enterprise applications, enabling you to improve areas such as sales forecasting, personalised marketing and new product development.

Strengthened security

In recent years, we’ve seen many organisations move away from basic username and password combinations to determine access – this is largely due to how weak user-generated passwords often are. We are now increasingly seeing two-factor authentication (2FA) being used – this can be done in a variety of ways, such as an SMS message or a phone call. This adds a layer of security, but can still be hacked.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) provides more security than 2FA and includes features such as biometrics, geo-location and user behaviour – it may require a user to enter a password, input a one-time PIN sent to their phone, or scan their fingerprint.

Additionally, these features allow for the application of analytics to provide advanced capabilities such as anomaly detection to quickly identify and address unusual activity. This means that even if a breach were to occur, the perpetrator is likely to be identified and blocked, before they’re able to cause serious harm.

Privacy and regulatory compliance

Data privacy is an essential part of any CIAM solution. Customers should be given control over where their data is being shared and how it is being used. This involves consent and preference management that allows them to decide how you collect and use their personal data. Organisations also need to take into account local data privacy laws, such as the Notifiable Data Breach legislation in Australia and ensure that they are compliant.

Hybrid CIAM deployment

Many CIAM platforms are cloud-based as they offer the scalability and performance needed to effectively manage millions of customer interactions. Cloud undoubtedly has benefits, however, it’s important to keep in mind that for many organisations, the systems the platform must integrate with are kept on-premises and so the CIAM platform should facilitate a hybrid identity and access management architecture that seamlessly brings together on-premise, cloud and mobile components.

CIAM has quickly become a cornerstone of excellent customer service, reducing the risk of security breaches while removing much of the friction and frustration often associated with customer interactions. It’s not only customers that benefit, but the organisation too. The identity data that an organisation has helps provide a convenient, omni-channel and personalised experience that is shown to build revenue and drive loyalty.