Driving Business Value: Get Behind the Wheel with Customer Identity

I recently took a thousand-mile road trip to see friends and family across the Southeastern U.S. Thanks to the collaboration between apps like Zoom and Slack, improvement in mobile hotspot technology (thanks, T-Mobile!), and Okta’s commitment to Dynamic Work, I could simultaneously keep tabs on projects, record a webinar, and share new research on the growing interest in customer identity and access management (CIAM)

So, during my time on the road, I started thinking: the enjoyment and efficiency of my journey is directly tied to modern, cloud-based software. It’s what kept me connected to the real-time information I needed. Those tools made it possible for me to increase output (driving long distances while staying productive) from the same input (the hours in the week). If I’d been relying on paper maps or dial-up modems, none of this would have been possible. 

Forward-thinking IT leaders and developers are also learning the benefits that come with cloud-based, CIAM solutions. These benefits allow their organizations to do so much more than their legacy or homegrown options allowed. 

If you’ve been wrapping your head around the benefits and details of CIAM, and/or how to categorize and quantify the business benefits of a modern, identity solution, you’re in the right place. Read on for a framework shortcut to mapping out your own journey—regardless of itinerary or budget. Then read the International Data Corporation (IDC) whitepaper with data on the value and benefits for organizations using Okta CIAM to securely manage their customer identities. No time to read the report? You’ll find quotes directly from it below. 

1. Reduce identity-related management and development costs

To begin, Okta CIAM reduces identity-related management and development costs by streamlining complex admin processes into one centralized, intuitive service. It’s like adaptive cruise control, GPS navigation, speed limit sign recognition, and lane assist, all rolled into one. This allows IT leaders and developers to have their hands on the wheel to course correct— while simultaneously looking down the road to what’s coming. Meanwhile, Okta CIAM automates the tedious moment-to-moment processes. 

“Okta CIAM cuts down the development timeline significantly because developers don’t have to handle authentication separately. It’s handled for them behind the scenes.”

For me on my Southeastern journey, this translates to no leg cramps or traffic tickets. For Okta customers, it’s higher developer satisfaction and faster time-to-market for new applications. The recent IDC survey of Okta CIAM customers found an average annual cost reduction of $147,400. 

2. Increase revenue from customer interactions

Second, secure, seamless, and personalized access experiences drive customer conversions, trust, and loyalty. (Building a business case for a modern cloud CIAM solution? Here’s the leg of the journey that will catch your CFO’s attention.) 

Throughout my trip, the uncertainty of travel was balanced by the certainty of finding a Peet’s Coffee using my iPhone app. At the Chattanooga location, I found a cup the same way I do in my San Francisco home. And, thanks to the MLB app, I enjoyed a familiar, omnichannel experience watching Braves and Giants baseball during my downtime. Regardless of my location, the app displayed my favorite teams’ games, whether on my phone, laptop or a family member’s smart TV. 

Okta CIAM capabilities create the same comfort in your product. With options like social login and multi-factor authentication, your customers can tailor their access experience according to their individual preferences. Some organizations in the IDC survey cited consistent and unified access across brands and sites with single sign-on as a key CX differentiator.

“We are trying to consolidate all of the experiences so that people see our company no matter where and how they log in, they’re going to see and feel the same experience. We expect to offer MFA to our customers, but that’s not realized yet. We expect the development of new applications that we build to serve our customers to be faster because Okta has a great API base, and you do almost everything there.”

But here’s where your CFO really perks up: IDC quantified the top- and bottom-line impact of Okta CIAM, showing significant improvements in revenue and operating profit, with $8,750,000 in higher average annual revenue for each organization. IDC’s financial model applied a 15% operating margin assumption, resulting in average annual operating profit gains of more than $1.3 million per Okta customer.

3. Improve business and operational efficiency

Next, improved business and operational efficiencies drive organization-wide benefits across teams and functions. IDC found that Okta CIAM is an industry leader and established player, with deep customer relationships. This has allowed for successful deployments across industries, geographies, and organization sizes. 

The underlying trust making this cross-functional impact possible is not unlike the trust associated with critical travel needs: the 24/7 availability of live data, navigation, dining, and weather apps. I trust Google Maps to provide live updates around traffic delays and, based on my experience with Chick-fil-A, I trust that I can count on consistently delicious food, great customer service, and an app with efficient ordering and customer support just a tap away. 

After adopting Okta CIAM, example benefits ranged from the equivalent of a whopping 36 FTEs in developer team productivity to the equivalent of 4 FTEs in boosted productivity for marketing departments per year. These productivity gains, calculated as $3.6M and $300K respectively, are crucial considerations when gathering buy-in from stakeholders outside traditional technology teams. They clearly demonstrate the importance of choosing an identity solution that satisfies the needs of customer support, security, compliance, and marketing.

“One of the things we got from Okta is improved innovation. They are not just keeping up with but staying ahead of the industry. Okta constantly evolves the platform and updates it to the best possible standards with automatic upgrades.”

A customer-centric user experience means fewer detours, fewer end-user issues, and lower support costs. Okta customers surveyed by IDC cut the number of help desk call tickets nearly in half, a 43% reduction, per week. 

4. Mitigate overall security risks for customers

Finally, the name of the game on the highway is mitigating risk, both physically and factually. I wouldn’t have felt as safe on the road in an old car without seatbelts, airbags, and strong tires. 

In that same vein, make sure your CIAM provider prioritizes FedRAMP and HIPAA compliance, as these are akin to the stamps of approval I like to see on my windshield. Okta CIAM customers enjoy full-speed acceleration of digital transformation initiatives while significantly streamlining security, audit and compliance reporting activities. Thanks to enhanced visibility into the end-user threats, IDC interviewees saw a 13% overall improvement in security team productivity. This amounted to an annual business value benefit of $169,000 per organization! 

“My organization started using Okta in 2017 for the seamless customer experience, end-to-end, irrespective of its analog touch point that the customer comes to us with. A critical aspect is the security of maintaining a secure customer login, etc.”

Security benefits can seem nebulous or hard to quantify, but IDC found a 21% reduction in security risks thanks to features like Adaptive MFA and ThreatInsight. ThreatInsight aggregates data about sign-in activity across 15,000+ Okta customers to analyze and detect potentially malicious IP addresses and to prevent credential-based attacks, with real-time data that can be integrated into the customer’s SIEM via APIs.

Calculating the ROI of any journey is a multifaceted calculation with both quantitative and qualitative considerations. One of the highlights of my road trip was meeting my friend’s newborn baby boy. This baby’s father is a good friend, and the head of IT systems engineering for a valued Okta customer. And even though we talked shop during naptime, I’d have a hard time justifying my travel as a “business trip”. 

However, identity leaders advocating for a CIAM journey can reliably point their peers to the business value generated for organizations like Kensho and The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. They’ve seen cost savings while providing best-in-class experiences for their customers and partners. Just as impressive, the IDC customer survey found an average 314% three-year ROI, with a CFO-pleasing 11-month payback period on Okta CIAM investment. 

It wasn’t long ago that technology leaders had to weigh OPEX vs. CAPEX and tabulate server depreciation, but those considerations are going the way of the printed road atlas. CIAM is the way of the future—the smartphone of organizational admin. But the business value benefits discussed here are just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more, read The Business Value of Okta Customer Identity and Access Management whitepaper, which contains the IDC customer survey results. Or get your own ETA for a modern customer identity journey with the Okta ROI Calculator for Customer Identity.