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Customer Identity and Access Management

Customer Identity and Access Management – What is it and why does it matter?

The goal of Identity and access management is to provide appropriate levels of access to authorized users. While Identity Access Management (IAM) solutions are scaled and designed to support internal users, customer-facing websites need a uniquely designed and scaled solution to manage access for external users. Customer identity and access management, CIAM is a solution created to manage external customers’ identity and allow them access to websites and resources based on the services to which they are entitled. CIAM creates the basis of the online customer relationship with the service provider.

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) Essentials

Essential to Customer identity and access management is that while the provider is responsible for ensuring their customers can access intended resources, they must also protect their privacy and personal data.  This is the paramount reason for the rise of CIAM solutions.

Key features enabled by customer identity and access management solutions:

  • Commercial CIAM solutions need to enable website visitors to be converted to customers by enabling them to establish an account
  • Once an account is established, CIAM solutions need to be able to validate the returning customer and ensure their identity before allowing them to access resources
  • Like internal access and identity management, CIAM solutions also need to enable single sign-on capabilities across a provider’s resources so that the landing page acts as a portal to all systems and digital services provided by the vendor
  • The customer identity access management system must be secure against an external breach that would enable bad actors to steal customer data
  • In addition to preventing breaches by ensuring proper authentication and prevention, one of the key features of a customer identity management system is monitoring for breaches and being able to prevent them automatically
  • Customer identity access management solutions also need to be scalable and allow for easy migration of users across new systems and infrastructure as the provider expands

In this way, the key features of customer identity and access management systems fall into three main categories: customer access management, customer profile management, and customer identity management.


While customer identity and access management and identity access management have many similarities, the solutions are not interchangeable. For example, here is how the key features differ between IAM vs CIAM solutions:

differ between IAM vs CIAM solutions:

Customer Identity and Access Management CIAM

Identity Access Management IAM

Used to provide access to services via websites and mobile applications

Used to provide internal access to systems and applications

Need to scale to a high volume of global users without knowledge of how small or large the volume can become

Need to scale to the organization’s size, which is known/quantifiable

Must be able to validate identity using methods that are available to all users without providing additional software, hardware like mobile phones and email

It can be established to work with commonly available methods like cell phones and email but can also support the use of remote access tokens and software

Must ensure regulations like GDPR can be managed globally without additional effort by the customer or provide (it must be built into the design)

As an internal product, IAM solutions need to be aware of situations that require employee privacy (where only an in-country colleague can access, support them), but GDPR is less of a concern

Another difference between CIAM IAM solutions is their key security features. While identity access management solutions must focus on ensuring appropriate levels of access across a wide variety of internal systems and applications, customer identity access management solutions must be exponentially more secure against an external attack that could lead to a breach of customer data. These key differentiators need to be considered when choosing between CIAM vs IAM solutions.
Customer Identity and Access Management

How CIAM Helps in Customer Retention and Sales

At the most basic level, customer identity management solutions enable website browsers to become customers by encouraging them to provide an email address. This, in turn, enables marketing opportunities, so they become customers rather than browsers. As they continue to purchase goods and services, the customer identity management solution tracks their use as interests, enabling focused marketing efforts.

At a higher level, the data collected about customer interests enables marketing analyses that enable the provider to determine the more valuable goods and services vs. those that don’t have market traction.

Trust also drives customer retention. Consider an airline and the quantity of data they must store about a traveller:

  • Personal identifying information (PII) like address, phone numbers, email, birthdate
  • Known traveller IDs and passport information
  • Credit card information

A data breach of this level of information exposes customers to identity theft and other fraudulent activities. Thus, if an airline is subject to a data breach because of ineffective customer identity management processes and tools, customers will remove their data and close accounts. In contrast, successful protection of this data through effective customer identity CIAM solutions will help retain that customer.

Customer Identity and Access Management

CIAM Use Cases

Understanding CIAM solutions will be used within an organization makes it easier to determine a CIAM vs IAM solution and select the most appropriate customer identity management tool. CIAM use cases are available to several key areas:

  • Provides the ability to market to website visitors by collecting basic information, such as email address
  • Provides the ability to market specific goods/services to visitors based on interest, enabling customer conversion
Customer Retention
  • CIAM enables the provider to evaluate customer loyalty by tracking interest and spend
  • Enables the provider to take automated actions when interest lags
  • Product/service metrics enable decisions to be made about which products should be retired, enhanced
  • Customer analytics enable the provider to match appropriate marketing campaigns to certain customer types and evaluate their effectiveness
  • Customer growth/shrinkage can be determined by account activity
  • Enables the consumer to gain trust in the provider by preventing data breaches
  • Provides early warning of the potential of a breach so action can be taken

CIAM Benefits

Customer identity access management CIAM solutions have become critical to consume web services.

They enforce best practices for access management, beginning with good password hygiene on the customer’s part, including the ability to set a strong password and also to retrieve it or reset it should the customer forget the password they set up. CIAM also helps gain loyalty through enabling strong marketing programs and by enabling the provider to develop trust.

Proactive monitoring of the patterns seen with malicious attacks enables providers to secure their systems from internal and external attacks, increasing customer trust and retention.

Customer identity access management systems benefit providers in immediate and tangible ways:

  • Prevent data loss and the costs associated with it
  • Free up resources to work on innovation by providing robust security management features
  • Increase security by enabling automated multi-factor authentication through mobile devices, email, or biometrics, making it easy for customers to prove authenticity

In the big picture, customer identity access management solutions make it possible for providers to gain customer loyalty through security, marketing, and the development of customer retention programs targeted to the individual.

CG Technologies are experts at addressing the challenges of complex IAM situations, with in-depth experience in providing CIAM solutions to a wide range of companies and technologies. Our expertise will protect your business, allowing you to mitigate the risks, control your costs, and allow you to concentrate on running your business.