Digital Transformation Requires Customer IAM

Today’s world is digital and omnichannel — digital transformation affects everyone. Almost everything you do, also happens in the digital world. However, the link between the digital transformation and a digital identity is often unclear to us.

Customer Identity Management (CIAM) is the key to manage this digital “you”. Be it an insurance claim or a table reservation in a restaurant, you will increasingly use a digital identity. For the companies providing services, the key question to attract customers is understanding them, i.e. to Know Your Customer (KYC). On the other hand, the key driver to profit is the possibility to collect and leverage user data.

Customer IAM stores your customer data centrally for all your services. The data can be (e.g.) user information like name or email, authorization data for specific part of the service, delegation data of the authorizations, or consent data. CIAM provides this data for the services that your users use, in order to help you make a great customer experience and save in costs. Compared to Enterprise IAM, Customer IAM’s key drivers are different, as described in this text.

Improving the Customer Experience

Digital transformation should really be about re-thinking the business, not just re-making or digitizing the old processes in the digital world. With a strong, trusted identity, services should not frustrate you by asking for basic information they already know. Instead, companies should deliver a quick, straightforward service.

An airline mobile application is a good, recent example: why would you need to type your name and other information for completing a check-in, since you are already authenticated in your app? Obviously, you should not need to. Checking in to a flight should not need more than one click, and optionally a second click for choosing a seat. If you are a frequent flyer they should know which seat you prefer, saving you the second click. Still, the reality is often far from this.

Great customer experience needs both user-friendliness and security, and they need to be in balance. Security should be seen as business enabler rather than as necessary evil. Offering services that are both simple and secure is certainly a winning recipe. Customer IAM helps achieving this by putting the user in the center. CIAM ensures secure handling of identity data, while also providing cost-savings by centralizing it.

The better the customer experience, the more users your service will attract, and the more business it means for you. You only need to leverage your customer data, which you possibly already have — it just isn’t used for anything beneficial. Of course, you need to make sure your data is relevant and its quality is good.

Privacy Concerns & GDPR

Cookies have been used for trying to get a good picture of the user, but they do not cut it. Connecting billions of cookies into the real world isn’t easy. Besides, it only feels creepy for the user, if your service suddenly knows something about them. I am sure all of us have had the experience of after surfing for something, ads of the same thing keep popping up everywhere you go.

Instead of cookies and other guesswork, the customer journey should be managed with a Customer IAM solution. It does not have to mean a heavy processes for registration and logging in. In fact, it could be a combination of cookies and actual authenticated user management. Without logging in, the service could acknowledge it knows you already, e.g. by greeting “Welcome back, Tapani!”. For any activities needing higher trust, the service would just do a Step-Up authentication — but only when that is really required.

For using any personal data, you need to have the explicit consent from the user. This is especially true in the EU because of the coming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In practice, though, also non-EU companies will need to think about and solve the same issues. Either because they also operate in the EU, or because similar laws and regulations will be implemented everywhere sooner or later. Users are often more than happy to give their consent to use the data, as long as they can control the use of it. Customer IAM solutions enable managing the users’ consent.


Data is the new oil, as they say — but only if you can leverage it. Customer Identity Management (CIAM) is the key to survive the digital transformation. Here are some of the key points:

  • Service can always deliver meaningful content for the user
  • Users gladly give their information because they have control over it
  • User data is relevant for marketing purposes, because there is not so much guesswork
  • The service provider can easily be compliant with laws and regulations, such as GDPR
  • Costs are saved because users are managed on a single platform
Tapani Tanskanen

Tapani Tanskanen

IAM & CRC Consultant and Manager at Atos Consulting CH
Passionate about Identity and Access Management and new technologies. I want to understand the big picture, as well as the essential details. Delivered IAM for 17 years, and still loving it! 🙂

Certified for CISSP®, CIAM, M.Sc. of Computer Science.
Tapani Tanskanen
Digital Transformation Requires Customer IAM
Article Name
Digital Transformation Requires Customer IAM
Customer IAM (CIAM) is the key to survive the digital transformation, make attractive and user-friendly services, and comply with GDPR.
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Atos Consulting CH
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