Consumer Identity and Access Management (CIAM), also known as B2C IAM, is still relatively new but it is rapidly becoming a ‘must have’ for any customer-focused business. It sets the foundation for an enterprise to deliver great customer experiences while creating the ideal balance between convenience and security. In the first of our CIAM blog series, I want to look at why the technology is important and what it can offer to your organization.
CIAM technology evolved to suit a need for more security, control and visibility of data and information related to customer identities. Traditional IAM, like the kind used for employees to connect to internal and cloud-based resources, provides great system security but falls well short of customer-specific requirements such as consent, preference and privacy management. What’s more, this type of identity solution lacks the performance and scale to meet the needs of potentially millions of consecutive customer interactions. It didn’t take long for the organizations that are using B2C IAM to realize that, in addition to enhanced security, they also had much more visibility into their customer behavior – a must for customer-obsessed companies.
Customers today want convenient, omni-channel, personalized and secure experiences when they deal with your organization. PwC’s ‘Experience is Everything’ demonstrates the value of getting this right. According to the report, 73% of respondents said a good experience was key to their brand loyalty and 52% said they would spend more for a fast and efficient customer experience. In fact, PwC states that excellent customer experience adds a 16% price premium on products and services worldwide.
If you don’t meet these requirements, customers are more than happy to find someone who will. Forbes puts the figure at 92% of people who stop interacting with a company after three or four poor experiences. Interestingly, that goes beyond a consistent, omni-channel experience to encompass how secure the service is perceived to be. Cisco has shown that in 2016, 22% of companies that experienced data breaches lost customers – 40% of those lost over a fifth of their customer base!
Digging a little deeper into the PwC report shows that for the majority of customers, three elements of customer experience stand out: Efficiency, convenience and knowledgeable service. Knowledge of your customer is important especially as recent research shows only 15% of companies surveyed could accurately and consistently identify their audiences – existing and potential customers – today.
CIAM: The 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. But it should primarily be seen as a business enabler. It is the solution that manages your customer interactions – many of which are outside your direct control. Elements such as initial registration, account management, consent and preference management all involve the need for the 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 touch points and enables your customer to engage with you how, when and where they want. This is an increasingly complex challenge. In 2017, the average North American consumer had 13 connected devices, almost double from the year before. This goes beyond desktop and laptop PCs and smartphones to an increasing range of IoT-enabled devices such as wearables, smart meters and connected cars.
Connected cars provide an excellent illustration of the challenges in managing the identities of digital-savvy customers. The car is likely to have more than one user and the identity of each of these people have to be quickly established and managed appropriately. For example, has the current user given you permission to share data on their driving performance with your partners such as maintenance services or insurers? What happens to the access privileges with these devices, or cars, when they are passed along or sold?
Core capabilities of a CIAM platform
Customer access isn’t just assigning authorization rights for online services. It has grown to include mobile, IoT, partner applications and many other channels. CIAM allows you to enable fast, convenient, unified and secure access across digital channels. More than this, a CIAM platform allows you to use customer identity data as a means to better understand your customer, and tailor your products, services and individual customer engagements to them.
Omni-channel customer experience
The experience begins with a registration process that is compelling and can be completed on multiple devices, establishing log-in and authentication credentials that work across channels. Multiple log-ins for different channels and devices create friction that will quickly lead to customer frustration and potentially lost sales. Often, social login – such as Google or Facebook – can reduce registration fatigue but raises security concerns that may require multi-factor authentication to address. Once registered, the customer receives compelling and consistent engagement across channels with extremely low-friction authentication.
Single customer view
Organizations have been collecting data on their customers for many years but this is often siloed across repositories and departments. The CIAM platform gives you a great deal of data on your customers’ identities and behaviors. It enables the creation of an extensive profile of each individual customer, including their identity details, purchase histories and usage and buying trends. The platform can bring all this data together into a single view of the customer which can then be fed into other enterprise applications to improve areas such as sales forecasting, personalized marketing and new product development.
The latest generation of CIAM platforms extensively use APIs to integrate identity information and analytics into complimentary systems such as content management, ERP and Customer Experience Management.
Until now, authentication has been a simple decision based on the credentials that the person presented. This was often via a very weak user name and password. The development of two factor authentication (2FA) using a second step such as SMS message helps but can still be hacked. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) that can include features such as biometrics, geo-location and user behaviour deliver higher levels of security. These features also allows for the application of analytics to provide advanced capabilities such as anomaly detection to quickly identify and address unusual activity. In addition, the CIAM platform must provide security beyond the customer to encompass employee, partners, applications and IoT devices to create a comprehensive end-to-end solution.
Privacy and regulatory compliance
Data privacy is an essential part of any CIAM solution, especially as the customer has to self-manage there own data and profile. The CIAM platform must give your customers insight and control over where their data is being shared and how it is being used. This involves both consent and preference management that allows your customer to decide how you collect and use their personal data. Under GDPR regulations, for example, consent management must allow your customer to establish multi-level consent – where the data can be used for one purpose but not for another – that can be switched on or off at any time. The CIAM platform requires extensive self-service capabilities so that your customer can manage their consents and preferences through their personal profile as well as advanced tracking and auditing so that you can demonstrate that you are in compliance.
Hybrid CIAM deployment
Many CIAM platforms are cloud-based as this offers the scalability and performance that you need to effectively manage millions of customer interactions. However, a good deal of the enterprise systems that your platform must integrate with will continue to be on-premises. For that reason, the platform should facilitate a hybrid IAM architecture that seamlessly brings together on-premise, cloud and mobile components.
CIAM has quickly become a foundational element of excellent customer experience. It reduces the risk of security breaches while removing much of the friction in customer interactions. It’s not only your customer that benefits. The identity data that you have at your fingertips helps provide the convenient, omni-channel and personalized experience that is shown to build revenue and drive loyalty.
In the next blog, I’ll look at the technical capabilities that enterprises should consider must-haves from a CIAM platform. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about how B2C IAM can help your business, please contact us through the website.