What is CIAM, and why is it so important?

Customers tend to stick with digital applications and online web portals that promise a great user experience. As a result, companies work towards providing their users with a seamless and secure digital experience. And all that can be done using a CIAM solution.


Without the right technology, it can be difficult for companies to strike the right balance between providing a seamless user experience and enhancing data security.

This is where CIAM, or Customer Identity Access Management, comes into view. CIAM is a platform that offers customers a great user experience without compromising data security. Let's dive into CIAM in the subsequent headings below.

What is CIAM?

CIAM, or Customer Identity Access Management, is a management system that focuses on protecting digital identities while controlling customers' access to applications and web portals' resources and data.
In a way, CIAM does the job of two important staff in a company whenever a user wants to access an online portal: the receptionist who grants you access after verifying your identity and the IT security team that protects the company and all the data that's in its possession.

CIAM studies and understands user behaviour and collects and stores their data to ensure a smooth and privacy compliant experience.

CIAM is growing fast and steady amongst organizations, and this indicates how far it has come in the technology world.

A recent report had just been released¹ where the future of CIAM was discussed globally and current realities such as market definition and many others were addressed to further enhance its features and capabilities.

CIAM vs IAM: what are the differences?

IAM, or Identity and Access Management, is a broader concept of data security and access management. It is the starting point for CIAM.
If we look at the name of CIAM, we can see that it focuses on access and identity protection of customers (Customer IAM), whereas IAM controls and protects access and data of employees within the company's networks.

CIAM's scalability exceeds that of IAM because CIAM supports millions of users (customers) with multiple identities across various websites while IAM supports thousands of users (staff) at most, with just a single identity within the company.

Organisations depend on their customers to generate revenue from, and that is why CIAM is so important. CIAM is designed to enhance the customer's user experience. And the better the user experience, the higher the conversion and retention rates for organisations. Which means more revenue.

However, IAM doesn't operate that way. It focuses more on work efficiency amongst the staff of the organization. It makes sure that it grants the appropriate authorization to each staff while still making sure that their data is safe from theft or risk of loss.

Moreover, CIAM is more flexible than IAM.

Since CIAM must appeal to the customers so as not to frustrate their login process, it adopts data collection from existing CSPs (Customer Credential Services) like social media and google. This way, it centralizes the user access and management quickly while still maintaining the appropriate security.

IAM is not as flexible because they don't deal with multiple identities and only requires one point of access for the users.

Why is CIAM so important?

CIAM improves the user experience (UX)

Nowadays, customers don't settle for companies that produce quality products alone. Without a perfect customer experience, how else are they going to know that these companies have their best interest at heart?

Even something as simple as a login technology could affect a customer's experience with the company. A survey carried out by YouGov² has shown that many organizations have failed to satisfy their customers' expectations of a login technology, and this has affected their brands' user experience.

To avoid this, CIAM streamlines customers' experiences through personalized interactions and identification.

Through CIAM, companies get to know their customers and easily offer them the best options through their services.
It also simplifies access to web applications and portals by exploiting SSO (Single Sign-On) features. These allow a single access to several online platforms.

This feature has proven effective in enhancing the user experience as the same survey confirms that about 47% of customers are likely to use SSO to log in².

Allows for optimal security

CIAM ensures maximum protection for users' digital identity by adopting the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) method. The increased rate of cyber hacking has subjected many companies to the risk of data loss. To combat this crime, companies now find comfort in this authentication mode.

MFA provides extra layers of security that discourage unauthorized access to users' data by using a combination of different factors proving the identity of the person trying to log in.

We all know that today, providing security must be stress-free for the consumers. This means that MFA should be triggered only when the system suspects unauthorized access by an intruder from an unknown device or location. This process is known as Adaptive Authentication or Adaptive MFA.

Check out our article on the differences between MFA and Adaptive MFA.

Facilitates compliance

CIAM, as part of its features, centralizes customers' data by gathering and collating it from different online web portals. This method aids the companies' data analytics in identifying the customer in one single view.

With data centralization, companies can now update and erase data in compliance with privacy regulations and consent management.

What are the main capabilities/functionalities of a CIAM?

User-friendly authentication

CIAM provides strong security for its users while still enabling a user-friendly platform to operate on. It incorporates SSO for frictionless access to applications for its users while introducing the use of MFA for additional security where necessary.

API integration

Using API integration, CIAM effectively gathers customers' identities and data via various applications and networks. The gathered information can now be incorporated into various other systems like CRM (Customer Relation Management), to further improve customers' satisfaction.

Behavioural analysis

CIAM uses behavioral analytics to study and understand customers' behavior across online websites. The analysis would then help in serving the customer by creating an even better user experience.
It doesn't stop there. The behavioral analysis makes it easier to detect unusual activities that don't correlate with the user's behavior, thereby facilitating better security.

Privacy and consent management

Customers have a right to decide on which of their information they want to share. With CIAM centralizing users' data, it is now easier for companies to make adjustments or amendments to data and consent, depending on the consumer's preference.

What are the CIAM's main use cases?

A common use case of CIAM is the seamless customers' interaction with online applications using SSO. It is difficult to remember every password and login credential used for various registrations to online web portals and networks.

To streamline customers' experience, the Single Sign-On (SSO) feature allows access to multiple applications with just one login credential. An example is the Google platform. Signing in to your Google mail account (Gmail) automatically signs you into Youtube, Google Drive, Google map, Google play store, Google photos, and other Google-related applications.

Another case is where SSO uses your existing information from Customer Credential Services (CSPs) like your social media information; Instagram or Facebook to log you into other applications. This helps to create one point of access and helps you manage your login credentials so you don't have to keep on storing and remembering passwords for different applications.

How to orchestrate the customer journey using a CIAM?

It is important to understand the entire user journey while implementing CIAM. Right from verifying customers' identities to authorizing customers' access to their data and resources, you should be able to see the journey from the customer's point of view.

That's why here at inWebo, we now have the perfect CIAM orchestrator technology, the inWebo Trustbuilder orchestrator. This technology greatly enhances user identification and login experience by centralizing identity management across geographical zones, reducing security risks, and adapting to changes in regulatory requirements.

inWebo's TrustBuilder orchestration technology works with a graphical workflow interface. This allows you to connect all kinds of applications and data sources and easily orchestrate the user journey.

What is Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM)?
CIAM, or Customer Identity Access Management, is a management system that focuses on protecting digital identities while controlling customers' access to applications and web portals' resources and data. CIAM studies and understands the users' behavior while collating and storing their data to ensure a smooth user experience that complies with privacy regulations.
What are the main features of a CIAM solution?
A CIAM has many capabilities, but to outline the main features provided by the CIAM solution we will mention: user-friendly authentication with SSO and Adaptive MFA, API integration, behavioural analysis and privacy and consent management.
What is the difference between IAM and CIAM?
IAM controls and protects the access and data of an employee within corporate networks while CIAM focuses on customers' access and identity protection. Hence, CIAM's scalability exceeds that of IAM because CIAM supports millions of users (customers) with multiple identities across various websites while IAM supports thousands of users (staff) at most, with just a single identity within the company. Moreover, CIAM is more flexible than IAM.

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Highest level of security on the market

inWebo MFA features the unique and patented technology of dynamic random keys. This ensures the highest level of security on the market. Solution certified by the French National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI).

Easy integration and deployment

Accessible in Saas, rich in connectors, API and SDK, a solution that adapts to your technical architecture, without imposing new constraints. Deploy MFA quickly and on a very large scale, without human contact or logistics.

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inWebo allows you to offer a simplified user experience, extended to all dimensions of authentication, from enrollment to login thanks to its universal, passwordless and deviceless tokens.

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