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Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) – use cases and technology guide

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What is CIAM? 

CIAM is a digital customer identity management tool for businesses that enables real-time identity management, end-to-end security and activation. These capabilities allow your customers a seamless and safe experience, while providing your business with actionable customer insights. This means tasks like login, authentication, or preference management are aligned and does not affect user activity. CIAM technology also addresses the critical need to secure personal data across public networks, even as they enable global businesses to comply with varied and frequently changing privacy regulations. 

An effective CIAM system provides more than just access because it enables a relationship between the customer and the organization, and facilitates data sharing on which cross-marketing capabilities and business intelligence activities depend. Such CIAM solutions will operate at extreme scale and deliver consistent performance over different channels of customer interaction, such as web and mobile. 

The importance of CIAM 

Customers today are spoilt for choices, which makes customer experience the defining factors in their decision-making. Great customer experience today is no longer a nice add-on, it’s the difference between winning business and one that is scraping throughA CEI survey says 86% of buyers will pay more for better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.  

This explains why a CIAM system is important to improve the customer experience with your brand.  


What are the benefits of a CIAM? 

Enterprises should consider implementing a CIAM technology solution because: 

  • Its unified customer experience enables customer conversion and retention. With consistent registration and authentication options at extreme scale and performance, it allows for highly secure and seamless customer experience. 
  • CIAM gives a well-rounded view of the customer. It unifies disparate data silos to provide detailed customer insights. This helps companies to understand customer activity from across access points. 
  • It helps to deliver consistent analytical insights and reports to drive various marketing campaigns, reach-out programs as well as sales opportunities. These statistics typically include user demographics, social registration and login data, behavioral data, and revenue activity.  
  • It complies with privacy regulations and improves agility and scalability to support millions of customer identities.  
  • It helps to connect the dots between marketing and multiple lines of business to deliver customized offerings that keep customers delighted while driving actionable data that helps businesses deliver on customer expectations. 

There are multiple scenarios in business functions where CIAM use cases come to play.  

Some of the common CIAM use cases are: 

For marketing purposes  

Consumers these days expect easy, friction-free login process across all the devices they are using. CIAM systems help deliver this experience. Common use cases include:  

  • To decreases abandonment rates   
  • To get identity resolution 
  • To get 360° customer insights 
  • To enhance experiences across digital mediums 
  • To improve customer experiences 
  • To make consent and compliance easy 
  • To give a unified customer experience 
  • To deliver consolidated reports 
  • To drive actionable data for the business 


For IT/security purposes  

Businesses need solutions that are simple to use, compliant with local regulations, and highly secure. Common CIAM use cases include:  

  • To manage customer identities at scale 
  • To enable social login 
  • To secure customer data 
  • To reduce exposure to threat  
  • To authenticate user  
  • To manage consent lifecycle  


Features to look out for in your CIAM technology solution  

  • User registration and onboarding: This first step in the CIAM process lets businesses convert casual, anonymous website visitors to registered, active users. To make this process seamless, businesses need to ensure the registration process is easily completed by the user. Or it could lead to the customer abandoning the process – and this could have a negative impact on the business. Therefore, it is essential that this first process is not just easy, but is user-friendly too, and that it collects the required customer identity data.  

For this, organizations must give users multiple registration options, such as registration with social accountsregistration by self or delegated administration and simultaneously, the individual identity must be validated and proven before a user account is created. Validation fulfills the need for verifying the information and ensuring that the user is who they claim to be. To validate users accounts, CIAM technology soluition must provide multiple methods as well as additional identity-proofing techniques, such as email verifications, can be used for some accounts and transactions. Identity proofing is a process that helps organizations validate the authenticity of users.  

  • Single sign-on: Single sign-on (SSO) permits customers to use a single set of log-in credentials to access multiple applications of the companyCIAM technology solution must support this commonly sought feature as well as ensure it follows the standard federation protocols, such as SAML, OAuth and OIDC among an organization’s websites.  
  • Progressive profilingCIAM technology solution must allow organizations to build on their user profiles with time. With every subsequent interaction from registration onward, the company can request for more identity data, such as name of the company, job title and so on and create a comprehensive profile of their users over time. 
  • Managing user profiles: CIAM technology systems must provide customer self-care portals so that when customers and users define their preferences, it gets stored in a unified customer profile which can then be used to create consistent experiences on every channel they’re on.  
  • Detecting fraud: One of the capabilities that a CIAM system should have is the ability to consume fraud information and allow a risk/fraud detection mechanism to evaluate and choose the right authentication methods to permit/deny access. 
  • Managing consent and privacy management:  Organizations have rules and regulations to follow that pertain to guidelines laid down by governments and different industry bodies on gathering user data. This requires CIAM technology solutions to comply with centralized data access governance policies, give users the option to provide preferences within the application letting them decide how organizations use their data. CIAM solutions must also deliver capabilities that look into regional data storage and other privacy requirements. 
  • Support on multiple channels: Customers interact with online services through multiple channels, and CIAM solutions must be built to enhance user experience across all these channels. In a multi-channel environment, the CIAM must be able to authenticate the customer through multiple channels as well as manage customer preferences across all these channels to build a unifying experience. 
  • User authentication: Several CIAM use cases included authentication that goes beyond just username and password. Mechanisms such as social log-in, multi-factor authentication and adaptive authentication are increasingly in use. Using social log-in, a user can access third-party applications without undergoing a new registration and the social networking site – such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Google – authenticates the user, allowing the CIAM to capture the user’s identity attributes. Multi-factor authentication is a process where a user is prompted during the sign-in process for an additional form of identification, such as to enter a code on their cellphone or to provide a fingerprint scan. Adaptive authentication is a type of multi-factor authentication that can be configured and deployed in a way that the CIAM will select the right multiple authentication factors depending on a user’s risk profile and behavior. Well, it’s also to adapt the type of authentication to the situation. 

Building your CIAM technology solution 

There are several highlight features that a CIAM technology solution must provide. But to ensure you’re using the best platform, there are certain building blocks on which the CIAM solution must be built. They are:  

  • Authentication: Data breaches are severely damaging to customer trust, making security high on focus. This raises the need for good security to be at the cornerstone of a CIAM technology solution. Businesses must safeguard their customers’ identities as they carry out sensitive and high-value transactions digitally. And here, focus moves to increase the sophistication of customer user authentication while providing a fine user experience. Strong authentication processes like multi-factor authentication confirm a user’s identity, ensuring only the right people have access with an additional authentication process to enhance the security of applications and services.  

Beyond multi-factor authenticationadaptive authentication is context-specific access that looks at not only standard authentication factors, such as a username and a password, but also additional context-specific factors such as the user’s device or location. The CIAM solution must consider the user’s device, the resource they’re trying to access, the category of transaction they’re performing, or other contextual factors and so on to authenticate the transaction. 

  • Privacy and Compliance: Privacy and compliance capabilities are the very foundation of CIAM technology solutions and CIAM initiatives must be built with the protection of the individuals in focusAs privacy standards and best practices continue to evolve, CIAM solutions must comply with an increasing number of consumer protection laws and regulations.  


  • Performance and scalability: With the number of customers, applications, websites and services continuing its exponential growth, the data collected on each customer growing with each passing day. In addition, in many customer-facing industries, seasons or other related reasons cause an extreme peak customer demand. This raises unique scalability challenges that only a robust CIAM technology solution can help address. And since each customer expects instant, frictionless access to your apps and services, the speed and performance of CIAM must never lag, even during peak usage times. 

There are two traditional ways to handle scaling – horizontal and vertical scaling.  

Vertical Scaling – Adding more computational and/or memory power to the underlying hardware of the systems. 

Horizontal Scaling – Adding more replicas of the system to the deployment. 

  • Integrations: It is the integration of a multitude of applications and services that enables digital transformationFor a CIAM system, it is its ability to function in a larger ecosystem, where it can appropriately share information with a variety of systems, that makes it powerful. The key enabler for integration is APIs, and a CIAM solution should provide means to integrate with such applications via APIs. APIs are increasingly available in CIAM solutions to allow third-party applications to perform several analytics and audit-related functions.  
  • Analytics: CIAM technology solutions aim to bring in revenue by leveraging identity data to acquire and retain customers. By transforming data about user activities into valuable and insightful information, companies can make informed decisions about the business as well as perform marketing campaigns and provide special offers. This makes CIAM technology systems an essential component in driving marketing and sales with the right insights. Analytics can be built upon the integrated data silos to build a unified user profile. 


With an array of use cases aimed at bringing the customer close to business with the power of customer experience through personalization, security, seamless buying experiences, consistent interactions across platforms and moreCIAM has to be seen as way more than a technology platform to being a complete solution. Nuvo is partnered with Akamai to provide a rigid platform to build a comprehensive CIAM systemTogether, we enable seamless and safe customer experiences and provide the deep customer insights your organization needs.