Modern Customer Identity Lets Developers Swap Roadblocks for Building Blocks

They say if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. But that doesn’t apply to customer identity and access management (CIAM). In fact, falling for the trap of thinking that it’s easy to embed a strong identity layer into user experiences can be a costly mistake.

Digital products and services are key business drivers, and their importance and impact has only increased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with organizations worldwide shifting their offerings and operations online. Today, leading companies are differentiated by the quality of the applications they develop and launch, and their ability to attract and hold onto thousands—or millions—of loyal customers. The demands on developers are high, to say the least. 

Defining CIAM

But what do we mean when we say CIAM? Customer identity includes all the fundamental features of the authentication, authorization, and user management workflows in customer-facing applications. This includes sign-up, sign-in, password reset, and account recovery for customers, as well as setting correct access policies and permissions for IT admins. Even if developers don’t hear the term CIAM used everyday, it’s something they deal with constantly.

It’s not simple, either. Authentication means enabling end users to access your systems with a variety of factors. Authorization is the process of placing appropriate constraints on this access, so that end users receive the resources they need and nothing more. And user management involves provisioning and deprovisioning access across the entire customer lifecycle, and securely storing personally identifiable information.

You can’t build when the foundation keeps shifting

Each of these three core pillars are subject to an ever-evolving litany of industry standards, as well as privacy and security legislation to comply with, like the CCPA and GDPR. Unsurprisingly, the challenge of keeping the user experience seamless, safe, and up-to-date can feel like a full-time job for developers. Building sufficient customer identity into your apps causes a slew of problems, including the need for more code, added complexity, and unreasonable costs. In fact, if your project was forecast to generate $50,000 revenue per month, but was delayed for six months while the team had to incorporate clunky, homegrown customer identity, then the net loss could total $300,000.

To better position your team for success, you need a modern CIAM solution that covers your bases, minimizes risk, and allows you, as the developer, to focus on the features that delight your consumers. 

The benefits of modern CIAM for developers

There are three enhanced developer experiences that modern customer identity can offer you and your team: flexibility, extensibility, and integration into modern developer tools.


Customer demands are complex enough without the added pressure of executives’ high expectations. But on top of all that, modern customer experience (CX) environments span more apps, brands, users, devices, jurisdictions, and regulations than ever, so it’s not news to developers that over 80% of organizations need anywhere between two and seven plus months to integrate customer identity into their new apps. An out-of-the-box CIAM solution allows you to integrate identity from the get go, turning it from an obstacle to an enabler. With a robust customer identity platform, developers no longer need to focus their time or attention on new assurance factors, MFA policies, or adding granular registration and login flows. 

A third-party CIAM solution like Okta will also offer flexibility when it comes to your team’s financial resources. On the one hand, it frees up the cost of maintaining a cumbersome internal customer identity tool. On the other hand, by staying ahead of the curve when it comes to potential threats, it mitigates the potential cost of a data breach. Studies show that if your system is compromised, 70% will turn their backs on your business.


In any customer identity project, your team will write code. But did you know that the average application has 27.6 serious vulnerabilities, and they disproportionately come from custom code? By opting to not build your own customer auth, you can reduce your vulnerabilities while also ensuring the agility, availability, and scalability of your app.

Buying auth shouldn’t slow or stop your team from extending the platform to meet your requirements. In fact, with the right auth provider you can do more with less—code, that is. 

For example, with Okta’s out-of-the-box Workflows connectors, flow templates, and user interface, it’s simple to build complex automation between Okta and the API economy. Combined with features like Okta Inline Hooks, your development team can automate key customer identity use cases, like integrations into OneTrust for Consent and Privacy Management. And, it’s more than just setting up a web request with custom code. It’s a visual, no-code experience where Okta builds the code for you, makes the web service call, parses the response, and lets you push specific data elements into other objects with a drag-and-drop UI.

Seamless integrations

To best support your development team, a third-party CIAM platform like Okta provides APIs, SDKs, and a customizable drop-in sign-in widget that frees you up to work on the apps and features that differentiate your business. Instead of developing custom identity policies for multi-factor authentication, for instance, Okta’s sign-in widget and configurable identity policy engine allow you to start building secure and fully-branded login flows in minutes. Meanwhile support for open standards and OIDC means integrating social logins through third party providers is fast and simple.

With Okta, you can easily and continuously evolve your login flows to include dynamic and context-aware protections, minimizing user friction. Beyond logins, it empowers admins with the reporting, compliance, help desk, and customer success workflows IT and engineering teams need. And with API access management, as well as authentication and authorization support for microservices, Okta CIAM provides a fully-stocked toolkit to help developers not only secure their apps, but build them for maximum scalability.

There are so many benefits that modern customer identity can bring to developers, from frictionless experiences and speed to market, to centralized management and internet-scale security. For a comprehensive overview of what CIAM has to offer, check out our Top Developer Benefits of Modern CIAM whitepaper, or visit our developer site.