The Journey to CIAM Maturity: An Intelligent Customer Identity Solution to Match Your Product or Service

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It’s not easy to find a public example of a commercial or enterprise organization that has advanced exceptionally far in their customer identity and access management (CIAM) journey. At a fundamental level, a company’s ability to secure their business and their customers is in constant competition with bad actors. While organizations develop an intelligent understanding of potential attackers, attackers are also evaluating how to iterate and improve upon their tactics. As an industry, we have to move faster, smarter, more effectively, and constantly adapt. 

At Okta, we’re the earliest adopters of our modern customer identity solutions, giving us a unique perspective when it comes to building solutions that can be accessed at scale by thousands of customers. As a result, we’ve moved through the third stage of the CIAM maturity model, which we’ve called “Intelligent.” That’s because our IT, security, developer, and operations teams function together like a well-designed machine, fulfilling specific roles and requirements, yet collaborating multilaterally to deliver a category-leading solution fueled by automation. 

In this fourth post of the CIAM maturity series, we’ll address the steps you need to take to help your organization arrive at intelligent customer identity. 

A CIAM solution as intelligent as your ecosystem

It’s one thing to model an intelligent CIAM solution in theory, and another to put it into practice. An organization at this stage is in a position to lead the market, and therefore has both a large number of subscribers and a complex mix of customers that spans multiple industries and disciplines. Delivering a secure and sustainable product to such diverse stakeholders is a challenge, as is protecting its data, infrastructure, and end users.

Expectations are high. Customers want a frictionless, personalized experience enhanced with up-to-date features. To deliver, an organization has to invest in the infrastructure necessary for the APIs and microservices that will enable these secure, modular systems. And while different teams work together in order to devise, develop, sell, and scale these offerings, they each have their own distinct demands and priorities to consider. Additional expectations come from the leadership team, who are focused on the goal of driving growth and maintaining competitive advantage. It’s a balancing act like no other.

So what does a successful product look like? First of all, it must connect to the marketing engine, delivering not only a consistent brand experience, but leveraging analytics to deepen relationships and realize new possibilities. Users should be able to enjoy secure, frictionless authentications straight from the login page with factors such as WebAuthn, SAML and OIDC auth providers, biometrics, or Okta Verify with push.

The policies and permissions that enable a secure, seamless experience are enabled on the backend, with a solution that not only centralizes user management, but automates the customer lifecycle so that provisioning and deprovisioning demand almost no intervention from IT teams. After all, they have more important projects to prioritize.

Building out an intelligent CIAM solution

For us, building out an intelligent CIAM solution starts with the Okta Identity Cloud, leveraging our platform to protect your assets and gain preemptive visibility into the potential threats that exist. Products like Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) allow us to add biometrics and other high assurance, passwordless factors into the identity layer, while tools such as identity proofing and account verification make sure that only legitimate users are allowed access.

Okta Universal Directory and Lifecycle Management provide the unified and centralized access controls necessary to remain in compliance with privacy and data security regulations, and the Okta platform hosts a range of tools and extensible security products that can be deployed for proactive risk detection and attack prevention. Leveraging the platform also allows for visibility into threat data across the Okta ecosystem and beyond your own systems, allowing you to proactively prepare for different attacks long before they’re directed at you. 

Progressive profiling and platform extensibility with hooks enhance the customer experience by capturing user attributes, reducing friction, and customizing the experience. And integrations not only provide end users with the tools and features that fit their needs, but also work with leading privacy and compliance vendors so that security risks continue to be detected and mitigated in a consistent way across the ecosystem.

Can your CIAM maturity evolve even more?

While intelligent customer identity might feel far off in the future for many organizations, the CIAM maturity curve doesn’t end there. At Okta, we envision a whole new level of ease and security when it comes to designing and delivering products and services to customers. But before any of us can achieve Stage 4 of CIAM maturity, we need to graduate from Stage 3.

That means adopting passwordless authentication and contextual MFA, along with progressive profiling and hooks to enable registration and personalization. It also means using tools and integrations for identity proofing, fraud and risk detection, and consent and privacy compliance. All of these factors come together to create the holy grail of customer identity—exceptional security complemented by a frictionless experience.

Learn how you can get more granular in building and securing your customer solutions through microservices and APIs. To see the whole story of the CIAM maturity curve from beginning to end, be sure to download our eBook, “From Zero to Hero: The Path to CIAM Maturity.”