CIAM Without Compromise - Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay In today’s ‘always on’ world, the customer’s digital experience and the journey the customer takes when interacting with any organisation are now paramount to that relationship’s success. Whether customers go online to pay a bill, set up a doctor’s appointment, or shop at a favourite retailer’s site, they want to know that the organisation knows who they are, protects their privacy, and lets them control how their personal data is shared.

Here in the UK, CIAM is playing a central role in maintaining trusted relationships with consumers online. 78% of the 200 UK and Ireland respondents who took part in a recent WSO2 and Vanson Bourne research study (launching at the end of April) said they already used an identity and access management platform (IAM). A further 67% utilise a customer identity and access management platform (CIAM).

Additionally, according to Gartner, customer expectations for a great user experience continue to rise. It puts more pressure on organisations to deploy better security, particularly better customer identity and access management solutions (CIAM), that don’t compromise the business or security.

But how do you make that user experience as frictionless as possible while remaining highly secure? How do you ensure that the organisation delivers an engaging, personalised customer experience that protects both the users and the company?

Meeting the needs of the business and IT security teams

Organisations now view their ability to create trusted digital experiences as a significant opportunity to build customer loyalty and gain a competitive advantage. To be successful, any solution must meet both the requirements of the business and the security team.

Lines of business are looking at how they can provide a highly personalised customer experience that enables the organisation to convert prospects into customers faster. Business lines are also looking at how they can stay ahead of competitors while strengthening their brand and online image. If you don’t have a good presence on the Internet in today’s digital world, you are nowhere!

Whilst IT leaders are looking at how they can empower business initiatives, they don’t want to be seen as the anchor or blocker. Equally, they don’t want to sacrifice security, damaging user trust and putting the company at risk. With the escalating threat landscape, IT teams are tasked with keeping pace with all emerging security vulnerabilities.

IT leaders must also ensure that IT systems reliably meet performance and scale requirements. While an organisation may have a few thousand internal users, a public-facing customer experience service could rapidly scale up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of external users. Therefore, being able to achieve scale quickly but securely is critical.

Growing pressures on application development teams to deliver

We are facing an ever-growing IT skills shortage. Finding specialists within the organisation who have CIAM skills is tough because there is a shortage of identity specialist developers. Additionally, implementation cycles are shortening, with the business demanding faster and faster release cycles.

IT teams are under pressure to continuously deliver as businesses strive to be as competitive as possible. Software developers with little IAM expertise are increasingly assuming responsibility for incorporating security into the applications driving consumers’ digital experiences. It’s driving demand for developer-friendly solutions that allow developers to add CIAM functionality quickly and easily without becoming IAM specialists.

In the long run, both business and IT teams want to build a great digital customer experience with robust security and a seamless omnichannel presence. However, they need to address the complexity of building a large scale and unified view when customers’ digital data may be fragmented and spread around different IT silos within the company. And they must do this more efficiently and cost-effectively to achieve quicker time to value.

Difficult choices and compromises

It means that organisations must often make uncomfortable trade-offs when selecting a CIAM vendor partner for their digital experience project. These include the tension between maintaining appropriate security controls without causing high friction and alienating users.

Organisations must consider how they realise their unique vision of the ideal customer experience without launching complicated, expensive development projects. They need to establish how they deploy successfully today within their existing IT landscape without sacrificing flexibility to meet tomorrow’s evolving needs without service disruption.

Lastly, they must solve how to scale up to meet growing demand and usage without incurring unacceptable licensing costs. Get it wrong, and there is a huge amount of risk incurred and costs sunk.

Maximising flexibility to minimise risks

In our experience, every organisation has a unique view of its ideal digital customer experience. Interestingly, its vision changes and adapts over time. Furthermore, companies will be at different levels of CIAM maturity and varying levels of expertise. Therefore, it is vitally important to work with a CIAM vendor whose solution provides a low bar to entry (helping those just beginning their journey achieve their goals quickly and easily) while also not imposing an artificial ceiling (where the simplicity of the tools is a barrier to sufficient customisation and extension as the CX project matures).

Also, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of flexibility to address the varied and complex IT landscapes within organisations. It means that any CIAM solution must have the ability to scale both technically and economically. It prevents an organisation from being penalised for its growth ambitions.

Unfortunately, a simplistic one-size-fits-all approach won’t meet all these requirements. CIAM is not a once-and-done initiative but a multi-year project.

Rudimentary CIAM starts with basic identity management capabilities such as user registration, consent management, social logins, and access to customer portals. Over time this can mature to a seamless omnichannel user experience, a fully unified view of the customer, real-time customer analytics, and secure API-level integration with many business systems and applications to add depth and functionality to the modern user journey.

1 billion identities under management

Organisations using WSO2’s CIAM Platform have over 1 billion combined identities under management. Our solution offers the industry’s best end-to-end developer experience. It is built for massive scale and offers multiple deployment options, including IDaaS/SaaS, open-source software and Private Identity Cloud managed service.

These capabilities provide customers with a solution that truly extends and adapts. As a result, we have received great industry accolades: KuppingerCole positioned WSO2 as an overall leader in its CIAM Platforms 2020 report. We were also recognised as a Strong Performer in the Q4 2020 CIAM Forrester Wave.

The benefits of CIAM can be substantial. Forrester Consulting conducted a Total Economic Impact Report on our CIAM Platform for several of our customers who reported an average of $4.51 million in benefits over three years with 332% RoI and a 60% increase in developer productivity during that timeframe.

Ultimately, organisations simply want to present their customers with the most compelling, intuitive, and pleasant experience possible. They don’t want the trade-offs that can limit or jeopardise the success of the CX project. Therefore, it is in the best interest of any organisation to employ a CIAM solution without compromise as the identity foundation for their digital customer experience.

WSO2 LogoFounded in 2005, WSO2 is one of the world’s best open source integration vendors, helping digitally driven organisations become integration agile. WSO2 is a global organisation with offices in Europe, the Americas, Sri Lanka and Australia.

WSO2 solutions give enterprises the flexibility to deploy applications and services on-premises, on private or public clouds, or in hybrid environments and easily migrate between them as needed. All of the products are pre-integrated allowing enterprises to focus on value-added services and get to market faster.


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