Having a Strong Customer Identity (CIAM) Strategy in the Enterprise

Nate Szytel
November 7, 2022

Major energy companies are recognizing their responsibility to create sustainable options for our increasing power demand. Along with that shift is the need to change the way they interact with their consumers to offer faster, more convenient features such as charging your car, paying at the pump, or paying a utility bill from your personal device. This digital transformation within a single energy company spans several types of consumers across dozens of brands. A consumer could be me and you logging into a website to access some functionality, or it could mean a driver who is delivering supplies and needs to access a dynamic inventory from their tablet. Combining these factors, big energy companies need to recognize that their digital consumer identity strategy is crucial to a successful shift into the next chapter of their business. This is broken into three primary categories:

  1. Cost, effort, and pain of onboarding hundreds of integrations that need access secure customer identities
  2. Complexity of operating an emerging IT service responsible for millions of customer identities
  3. Lack of insight into service data that enables them to make informed decisions

Without a strong consumer identity strategy, enterprises that allow their many brands to create bespoke identity solutions are not able to ensure unified, secure accounts that meet GDPR requirements, lifecycle management criteria, and data governance policies.

Shifting towards CIAM (and away from IAM)

The energy company example scratches the surface of what most enterprise companies are experiencing. The ground rules are meant to keep a number of high-level objectives in place, but give flexibility to the many marketing teams who have their own strategy. But achieving flexibility, governance, and security for consumer identities across a complex landscape is challenging. 70% of companies today are using their existing IAM solutions to process customer data. This is because the IAM solutions are more mature compared to customer identity platforms which, historically, were grown out of IAM solutions. However there is a recognition and shift to focus on CIAM as independent. The reason is because CIAM systems need to scale to meet millions of records and accommodate traffic spikes during marketing campaigns or holiday seasons. The user journeys also need to be more flexible in order to meet many use-cases as these services are much closer tied to company revenue.

Onboard Applications at Scale

Within the enterprise, there can be dozens or even hundreds of applications to enable consumer markets, vendors, partners, subsidiaries, recently acquired companies, etc. Since these applications are not harboring employee identities, a dedicated flexible CIAM solution is ideal for to meet all of the use-cases. But managing applications means that the enterprise needs to have a clear understanding of the governing the application while enabling them in their market. Some key aspects include:

  • Managing application onboarding and off-boarding at scale
  • Keeping an inventory of assets to manage individual configurations for supporting and for auditing
  • Setting granular rate limiting per app so that traffic of apps operating independently won’t affect other apps using the service
  • Making it easy to provide reports for charge-back models
  • Giving consumer insights in order to decrease risk and increase adoption

(Let me know if you’d like to read more about any of these points in a future post.)

Operate a Seamless IT Service

Some brands want to utilize a unified user directory to share access to existing consumers and to simplify the login experience. However, others may need consumers to remain in a silo for reputation, legal, or other reasons. Regardless of the varied use-cases, the parent entity needs to ensure global data governance is being maintained. Some examples include ensuring consumers have accepted the latest brand T&Cs and PPs or allowing consumers the right to revoke their data from a specific application. In this case, a granular data revocation process needs to ensure that the associated applications receive the data revocation event to delete that consumer’s information. But, the primary core user account should remain intact so that they can continue to use other brand’s products and services. There are many areas where data governance is critical and those become more challenging to run as a service the more mature the consumer landscape gets.

Analyze Customer Identity & Integration Data

Ultimately, there is someone within the enterprise that is responsible for managing the application data lifecycle, ensuring that consumer accounts are secure, providing a wide range of capabilities for features and migration options (bulk vs just-in-time), ensuring unverified or dormant accounts are being disposed, facilitating charge-back models, and providing insights to meet business objectives. This person (or group) is the service owner. They are tasked with data governance, data ownership, enabling applications, ensuring security, etc. The enterprise CIAM platform needs to provide insight into all of these components so that they are enabled to gain adoption, scale, operate, and maintain their service.

Next Identity

Next Reason’s CIAM platform allows enterprises to:

ONBOARD applications at enterprise scale
A holistic solution to orchestrate CIAM onboarding workflows from discovery to deployment, as well as modern self-service tools that enable application teams to onboard themselves.

OPERATE a seamless global IT service
Delivers support across hundreds of integrations through modern asset management, configuration-as-code, and devops automation solutions to meet auditable IT change management requirements

ANALYZE customer identity & integration data
Enables service owners with deep insight into feature adoption, user growth trends, customer activity, common pain points, and security scores across hundreds of applications to make informed decisions

Shoot me a message if you’d like to learn more about how our products enable the service owner in the enterprise.

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