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Blog | 3-minute Read

For CIAM to succeed, experience and security is a must

Marcus Idle profile headshot

Marcus Idle

Head of External Identity

Published: 27 October 2021

Businesses are starting to deploy Consumer Identity and Access Management solutions for seamless and secure customer service experiences, but careful evaluation is crucial to meet their expectations and accelerate revenue growth. 

Consistent presentation of a brand has been seen to increase revenue by 33%


CIAM – Changing the user experience

Consumers are just a click away from engaging with an e-commerce site, leveraging digital services or simply engaging with brands online.

Businesses must adapt with new strategies and digital initiatives to remain relevant to consumers and create a competitive advantage.

Due to changes in consumer behaviour, CIAM solutions are becoming crucial for businesses to successfully engage and attract new customers.

User adoption and interaction is critical for any CIAM solution to deliver true business value, with user experience (UX) often cited as the most important element.

However, beyond a great UX is the need to ensure the solution directly addresses issues of privacy and consumer data protection.

If existing or potential customers are not confident their data is safe and secure, they will opt out and move on to other services or brands that meet their privacy requirements, resulting in lost revenue and potential brand damage.

The right CIAM solution should exceed customer expectations for usability and personal data protection enabling businesses and their brands to develop long-lasting relationships with customers.

The requirements for a successful CIAM implementation differ from that of a workforce identity and access management (IAM) solution, such as Azure AD.

The underlying reality of these differences is in the core assumptions about workforce versus customer relationships.

Employees are required to use an organisation’s systems in their day-to-day jobs. But, customers in contrast can, and most likely will, walk away if their experience fails to meet expectations.

The ultimate guide to external identity success

A 7-step plan to achieve seamless user access, the highest levels of security, and unrivalled user experiences.

It’s time for a purpose-built CIAM

An agile feature-rich CIAM solution is a core requirement in a modern digital world. The ability to enable businesses with intelligence and visibility throughout a customer’s lifecycle is invaluable.

Deploying a purpose-built CIAM solution requires engagement, feedback and input from multiple stakeholders throughout the business.

Stakeholders throughout the organisation must collaborate to define requirements and identify use cases that must be supported to ensure organisational alignment and commitment.

For organisations to truly put the customer first, a purpose-built CIAM solution is critical.

The primary objective of a CIAM solution for any organisation is to drive engagement and accelerate revenue growth.

To drive the desired growth, organisations utilise the intelligence generated by the CIAM platform to build and nurture deeper customer relationships via the collection of unique user information – being sure to always protect the data and ensure its privacy.

The privacy and security of each customer’s data are crucial, as the safeguarding or lack thereof can have a direct impact on an organisation’s brand, revenue and reputation.

Therefore, it’s imperative that your CIAM solution is compliant with the requirements outlined in various regulations and laws (e.g. GDPR or CCPA) protecting user data and rights.

Regulations may specify different residency requirements concerning the physical location of the protected data or user rights such as the ability to invoke the Right to be Forgotten.

It’s vital to fully understand use cases and how and where user data will be used and stored.

Frictionless user experience

Capturing accurate data is essential for an organisation to provide each customer with a great experience.

As new strategies drive investment in digital initiatives focused on creating value for the customer, a robust CIAM solution becomes a business imperative.

The ability to provide progressive user profiling or seamless integration with a CRM platform gives deeper user insight for businesses.

Key aspects of a CIAM solution include:

  • User registration
  • Social login
  • Consent management
  • User profile management
  • Branding control
CIAM spoke and wheel diagram

What Should You Look for in a CIAM Solution?

Whilst assessing the requirements and overall drivers for a CIAM solution, the balance between immediate needs and long-term ongoing strategy with CIAM practice should be considered.

Even though a handful of core identity and access management capabilities are fundamental for all user types, managing and nurturing a customer relationship is different.

CIAM institutes a user-first focus with an emphasis on gaining a better understanding of the customer to meet their needs and exceed their expectations while securely protecting their identity and data.

User expectations surrounding a CIAM solution often include:

  • An intuitive, intelligent, and complete (end-to-end) customer experience
  • Omnichannel is becoming the norm and the expectation
  • Data unification is essential to manage identity and profile data
  • Customers expect more control of their journey
  • Frictionless login accelerates onboarding and improves retention
  • Evaluate privacy and user protection features and functionality
  • Identity proofing capabilities improve user confidence
  • Fraud detection and prevention creates customer trust and loyalty
  • Support for BYOI (Bring your own identity) improves engagement
  • Self-management for privacy and security preferences improves the experience

In general terms, the experience is the sum of a user’s interactions with a company across all customer touchpoints.

These touchpoints include mobile applications, online portals, websites, e-commerce sites, marketing outreach, sales initiatives, customer support, services and more.

Each element has the potential to provide a positive or negative experience. Organisations that strive to embrace a customer-first culture in every aspect of the business, along with their CIAM solution, will provide the omnichannel experience customers expect, improving engagement and retention.

How to Deliver Security and Privacy

Privacy and compliance capabilities are foundational requirements for any CIAM solution. A strong CIAM solution provides multiple features to protect the customer and their data.

Organisations must adhere to a growing number of consumer protection laws and regulations which can become difficult to manage for organisations operating in multiple jurisdictions.

Organisations must strive to deploy a CIAM solution that deeply supports privacy in all process flows, rather than settling for superficial compliance.

Establishing a strong security architecture is a must to properly support a CIAM solution. Utilising a layered approach to security is key to confidently protecting customer information and maintaining user trust.

Providing the ability for customers to select their own security preferences, such as MFA options from Push-to-Accept to SMS or even email, will set the stage for a strong customer relationship.

Enabling the Right to be Forgotten via a simple keystroke is another component of a good CIAM solution.

Customers will value the ability to erase their personally identifiable information (PII) with the click of a button.

Organisations must ensure protection from bad actors looking to compromise accounts and execute identity fraud.

In a scenario such as a customer conducting a high-value or sensitive digital transaction, some friction (such as MFA or identity proofing) may be a welcoming experience for the customer.

Providing customers with the ability to set their preference for an additional identity verification step creates confidence and trust.

This additional friction is deemed acceptable by the customer and improves protection against potential fraud further strengthening trust with the customer.

CIAM – An Easier Customer Experience

CIAM is all about making things easier for the customer. For many organisations, the first step is to provide a unified experience for the customer.

This can include enabling single sign-on (SSO) across all relevant user interfaces and allowing customers to leverage an existing social login when initially engaging with the organisation.

Throughout the customer’s lifecycle, your CIAM solution will provide valuable data for your business to analyse and interpret, ultimately creating the relationship customers’ desire.

By starting with an approach to make things seamless, easy and convenient for the customer, your business will create a competitive advantage that results in healthy customer relationships, brand ambassadors and revenue growth.


The importance of Consumer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) solutions in delivering an exceptional digital experience for customers can’t be overstated.

Customers expect a seamless and secure experience with your business. You need to invest in purpose-built CIAM solutions to attract and retain them, all while complying with privacy regulations.

The best CIAM implementations will take into account:

  • User experience.
  • Privacy and data protection.
  • Omnichannel support.
  • Fraud detection.
  • Self-management for privacy and security preferences.

To meet these customer expectations, it’s crucial to invest in a CIAM solution that offers an end-to-end customer experience, data unification, and identity proofing capabilities.

By doing so, businesses can create a customer-first culture, nurture deeper customer relationships, and drive revenue growth.

The ultimate guide to external identity success

A 7-step plan to achieve seamless user access, the highest levels of security, and unrivalled user experiences.

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Marcus Idle profile headshot


Marcus Idle

Head of External Identity

Marcus has built a busy External Identity practice working with Azure AD B2C, B2B, and Identity Governance features. He’s passionate about bringing cloud and external identity to life to solve our clients’ business problems.

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