Unveiling a Blind Spot: How CIAM Vendors Can Bridge the Gap with Application Teams for Success

Nate Szytel
August 24, 2023

Imagine you’re throwing a massive party in the digital realm, and you need to manage the guest list with style. CIAM and IAM are like your party planning BFFs, but they have different roles. CIAM, the Cool Individual Attendee Manager, is all about making each guest feel like a VIP. It’s your go-to for customer-focused parties, ensuring folks can smoothly RSVP, waltz in with their preferred social media profiles or fingerprint, and enjoy personalized party favors. On the other hand, IAM, the Identity Afficionado Maestro, is the grandmaster of corporate galas. It’s decked out in a suit and tie, overseeing employee access to different parts of the soiree, like the fancy dessert table or the secret karaoke corner.

But what you may not know is that while IAM has been doing their job for a long time, CIAM is a relatively new hire who has a lot to learn. CIAM has tried to invite individuals one-by-one, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to reach the scale they need to be successful. Luckily a friend gave them a tip — rather than inviting each person individually, instead invite a few bands to play who already have a following. Before you know it, your VIP section is filling up quickly. Plus the bands already know what their audience wants in order to have a great time. CIAM soon realizes that they can focus on making the party a great place for bands to in turn make it a great place for individuals.

To bring this back to reality, CIAM platforms today focus on customers (hence the ‘C’), but they instead need to set up the party and then focus on who is going to bring in the customers. Not only will they bring in customers, but they will know what those customers want. Of course we are talking about the applications.

Applications are managed by a team of people dedicated to understanding their market. They are typically composed of marketing, product, development, and others. But the wide majority of CIAM vendors today are one of two things:

  • A repurposed IAM capability and not specifically designed to meet the customer use-cases
  • Focused on making authentication great for customers — think passwordless and seamless integrations

But where do the app teams fit in? Generally speaking, the best way to set up, run and maintain an identity platform and program is to hire experts like a managed service provider. If the MSP has experience with CIAM, then they know that setting up a great application lifecycle management service is the key to success. Not only does this mean creating a simple onboarding process, but also getting an annual re-certification from the app to ensure they are still using the service, retaining an inventory of information for reporting and audit purposes, and setting policies to offboard the app if they are dormant for a period of time. Application lifecycle management is the unsung hero of CIAM.

Next Reason focuses our identity services almost exclusively on CIAM and is why we built Next Identity — to automate the application lifecycle in order to create a true enterprise CIAM platform. By making onboarding self-serviceable and automating re-certification and offboarding processes, we save companies a huge amount of time and spend as well as reduce risk and improve security and compliance.

Message me if you want to chat or have any questions. And don’t forget to invite who matters to the party!

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