If your business is even thinking about choosing between a traditional enterprise Identity and Access Management (IAM) platform and a market focussed Customer Identity and Access Management (cIAM) platform, then it is likely you’ll need the latter and end up employing it. Sounds like an outlandish overstatement? Read further…
If your company’s analysis is purely from a business and customer perspective, cIAM will win the contest hands down. But even if you compare the two implementations and throw in an in-house identity management system into the mix, customer identity management solutions should still be your choice owing to the myriad advantages it offers over other architectures. IAM can never replace cIAM even though the last three alphabets in the two acronyms are the same. Obviously, the difference is the customer. And it’s not just a difference, it’s a humongous difference that can potentially turn things on its head.
For market focussed cIAM platforms, the end user (your business’ customer) is the master of the game and your marketing team needs a trump card. A cIAM platform could be that trump card. Because a complete cIAM platform integrates IT with marketing and maintains a constant supply of ammunition to your marketing team whether they use CRM, marketing or e-commerce software without for once having issues of data silos. cIAM ensures your marketing team never runs out of bullets. Major cIAM platform vendors offer inbuilt integrations so your smaller individual teams become one strong coordinated team through a constant exchange of customer data and information.
Enterprise IAM systems are essentially built for employees in organisation from a security perspective and are mandated to be used. User experience, privacy, support across different channels and business analytics don’t figure in the mix there. But for businesses, customers’ experience is mission critical. On the other hand, if you are thinking of building an in-house system to manage your customers (which is highly likely considering you are a developer), you could reach a scenario where there are too less cooks in the kitchens and no broth at all. Experts are advising that the home grown approach to software development be dumped and specifically so when it comes to cIAM solutions.
Having said that, your marketing team will, in all likelihood, pitch for a Customer Identity & Access Management (cIAM) platform considering its characteristics as a customer-centric utility, built only to drive up conversions and give customers a far smoother experience. But you are a developer not a marketeer so things like conversions, engagement and user experience can’t be expected to top your priority list. Developers are more preoccupied with back-end issues which fly over others’ heads.
But the importance of these aspects can’t be undermined and there are several eligibility criteria that you can use to advise your organizations while choosing a cIAM platform. Most big league developers use these criteria to shortlist the perfect cIAM platform. Always remember that a bigger vendor doesn’t necessarily offer the better product.
- Flexibility and how many technologies it can support: Different businesses use different web technologies. In fact, most businesses employ different web and marketing technologies in one ecosystem. But a single cIAM solution should have the adaptability to integrate with the most commonly used tech across different verticals.
- Does the cIAM platform stop at just identity management? A high value cIAM platform will not stop at just providing a social login, self-management of profiles and analytics. It must adapt to different marketing and CRM technologies and continuously feed data into them without giving rise to data silos.
- Futuristic outlook and life cycle: This is a very important question you should ask your vendor. How long can you run with the cIAM platform until it runs out of juice and becomes incompetent. Technology changes every second and your software should be able to stay in sync with the updates of the world for a longer period of time so as to justify your investment.
- Performance: A very important metric is the uptime of the system. If your platform is down for even a couple of minutes, it could mean several hundreds of lost customers for no fault of yours. A 100 percent uptime could be a little unrealistic but anywhere extremely close to it should do.
- Scalability: Now this is really important. Today you may be a large business or a small business but your endeavour is to grow and that will happen when your customer base grows. You don’t want to caught in a situation where your customer base in expanding rapidly but you can’t scale up proportionately to store the mammoth number of profile and profile data points.
- Security, privacy and encryption policies: With digital users being wooed from all sides on the web by businesses, privacy and security become cornerstones of a solid cIAM platform. Importance of privacy is fast rising with customers unwilling to part with their personal information and laws protecting them being more stringent than ever. It is extremely important that privacy policies are complied with and strong encryption policies are put in place. Check the encryptions algorithms the cIAM platform can put into use.
- Omni-channel: The cIAM platform should provide support for mobile channels considering a large section of your customers are likely to access your website using mobile channels. You wouldn’t want to be asked to develop the adaptability modules for mobile support.
But at the end of the day, these are broad criteria that generic businesses can follow. There could be more specific requirements depending on the business you are part of.