5 signs to upgrade your small business Identity solution

TL;DR: Is customer login holding back your small business? Here’s what to look for when you’re ready to take your business to the next level:

  • Fraud? Need to scale? Top five signs it’s time to upgrade
  • Upgrade benefits, including solving for security, customer experience, scalability, and future opportunities

Your user sign-up and login was fine when you started. But maybe you're starting to feel the strain as you need to add social authentication, implement account recovery or MFA, or even prevent fraudulent sign-ups. Maybe it’s hard to justify prioritizing Identity over building your core product, even when the sign-up and login are holding you back, or even putting you at risk.

So how do you know when it's time to take your business to the next level? We made an assessment checklist with five key indicators that suggest your sign-up and login needs an upgrade — and the opportunities you can take advantage of afterward.

The current Identity solution landscape

Built in-house vs. supporting feature vs. Customer Identity

Small businesses can add Identity functionality — login, sign ups, account reset, etc — to consumer apps by building it natively in the application. But building takes significant development effort. Supporting features from platforms like Firebase or Stripe offer convenience but may lack customization or extensive support for MFA and social authentication. They may also fall short of meeting regulatory requirements. 

The other option is to use a dedicated Customer Identity platform to strike the balance between security, scalability, and ease of use.

Identity vs. access management: Which way to go?

Identity management encompasses the entire lifecycle of a user's identity, from registration to deletion. Access management focuses on controlling what resources users can access based on their identity. Get yourself a solution that does both.

The significance of staying up-to-date

An updated, optimized CIAM solution can help keep costs down, improve productivity, enhance security, and even make your customers happier. It should make your business easier to run, not harder. 

Point solutions may seem like a good short-term fix, but they often lack the features required for sustained growth. We’ll get into that in more detail below, particularly in the segment about tech debt. 

5 signs of an outdated Identity solution

  1. You aren’t prepared for a breach

At a glance: 

  • Losing sleep over a potential cyberattack 
  • Unsure if CIAM covers you for bot attacks, fraudulent sign-ups, and other specific security concerns 
  • Lacking table stakes features like bot-attack prevention, multi-factor authentication, and more robust account recovery processes
  • Increasingly worried about AI 

A Small Business Administration survey found 88% of small business owners felt vulnerable to an attack or breach. Poor Identity practices can expose businesses to unauthorized access and employee and customer data loss, and sadly being a small business doesn’t mean you’re not a target for cyberattackers. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) and robust access controls can mitigate these risks significantly.

Advantages of Upgrading 

According to a study by the Cyber Readiness Institute, 54% of small businesses didn’t implement MFA of any kind, despite the adoption of MFA being one of the top recommended ways of keeping your business safe online. Modern Identity solutions should offer a range of security features such as MFA, with solutions for keeping login friction to a minimum. These measures help safeguard sensitive data and protect your business from evolving cybersecurity threats. 

  1. Customer experience (CX) is lagging behind 

Note: Already know you need to boost your CX? Check out How to Create the Identity Experience Your Customers Want to learn more about where current strategies fail customers, and how CIAM can minimize frustration and improve security.

At a glance

  • Frustrated customers
  • Too many abandoned carts
  • Revenue or account growth is stagnating
  • No secure and convenient options like SSO or passwordless
  • No way to introduce MFA prompts and captchas only on high-risk logins and sign ups
  • Too many form fields on user sign up
  • Lack of social authentication options
  • Missing out on data collection as users opt-out of cookies or avoid sign-ups

Your customers have high expectations, and bad CX can cost you more than just your reputation. Convenience, speed, and control are now demanded: customers want you to keep pace with the best digital experiences they encounter elsewhere, to have login options to use — whether it’s SSO, biometrics, the option to use passkeys, or adaptive MFA (where added security only activates on high risk login attempts, like when a login is impossible to travel to from the last login). And, of course, they don’t want to see technical glitches or have to re-sign up on another device. Consumers crave that seamless, safe, unified, and consistent experience — but when your login is outdated, or doesn’t yet exist, you can’t deliver this experience. Providers who fail to offer convenience, security, and privacy are losing out to those who are.

Advantages of upgrading

CIAM can enable customers to engage with your apps or services at any time, from any device, in a secure, convenient, and consistent manner — and even decrease the work and maintenance required from IT. Implementing solutions like SSO, social login, and passwordless options not only simplify the user experience but also contribute to increased customer loyalty and better customer data collection — without increasing the IT workload, and even saving them time. 


HESTA benefited from a 30% annual increase in Customer Effort Score (CES) after easily migrating users to a new Identity solution, all while improving security and providing enhanced app services to customers.


  1. You’re struggling to scale


At a glance: 

  • Legacy or DIY solutions aren’t growing with you
  • Unprepared for high traffic surges
  • Lack of automation or central control
  • Unable to obtain Enterprise-level customers

Can your current CIAM solution take you where you want to be in five years? Rudimentary login solutions often lack the controls and scalability required to accommodate growing user bases and emerging technologies, whether that’s juggling huge spikes of new customers or struggling to meet the reporting and privacy requirements of laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). A powerful integration engine is also crucial for  SMBs: offering a broad suite of social authentication options (through OpenID Connect and OAuth)  and allowing B2B customers to integrate their own enterprise SSO solution (via Security Assertion Markup Language, or SAML) can open doors to new customers — opportunities hard to reach for home-grown, supporting, or outdated systems.

Advantages of upgrading: A modern Customer Identity solution can scale alongside your business, accommodating increased user demand. Scalability is one of CIAM’s many strengths, able to support millions or even billions of users, including scaling during planned and unexpected surges. Modern Customer Identity also provides a broad set of functionalities to help you automate, meet regulatory and privacy  requirements, and provide a broad suite of login options for individual and Enterprise-level customers. 

  1. Growing complexity of Identity management

At a glance: 

  • Operational efficiency in decline
  • No single source of truth
  • Data silos and Frankenstein architecture
  • Different login experiences per app
  • Slow systems or poor visibility
  • Lack device diversity for customers
  • Lack of extensibility options — and other IT challenges you might be facing

As your business expands, managing user identities across different applications and services can become unwieldy. Just like your workforce craves device diversity and BYOD policies to work from home, your customers need safe, easy access to your services from all their devices. And if you haven’t made the post-pandemic shift to digital, you’re losing opportunities to competitors who do.

Siloed login systems can hinder efficient data analytics and customer insights, removing valuable guiding insight to how your business should operate. You may be unable to offer highly personalized offers to customers, or create recommendations that generate value and drive additional revenue. Inaccurate or siloed data can also create barriers to you adhering to data privacy laws (see scalability, above). 

Advantages of upgrading: CIAM lets you streamline siloed customer data into a single source of truth. Cloud-based Identity solutions also provide the flexibility needed to adapt to changing business needs and emerging technologies, including what Enterprise integrations, applications, and services are available to you. Centralized processes will help IT feel in control, and boost operational efficiency, and even free up devs to work on core products instead of maintaining complicated legacy systems. 

  1. Tech debt (and the hidden costs of legacy tech)

At a glance:  

  • Shrinking ROI
  • Increasing maintenance costs, especially if it’s more than a newer solution would cost in the long run
  • Increased security risks due to aging technologies
  • Realizing a DIY solution is harder (or more expensive) than it looked
  • A cumulative effect of the previous four points combined with high total cost of ownership, particularly when newer tech is available

It may be what you’re used to, but holding onto legacy systems that no longer support or don't align with modern security practices can lead to substantial tech debt. The cost of maintaining these systems, and being unable to adapt to changing business needs, can outweigh any benefits these systems once provided. Couple that with the risk of non-compliance with industry regulations and third-party requirements, and the downsides of your old solution can quickly outweigh the benefits.

If your legacy system no longer supports new apps or integrations, if you’re fighting to make the jump to the Cloud, if using AI to grow your business feels out of reach, if you’re falling behind third-party requirements, if your login isn’t creating the value you want to see, or if you’re increasingly pulling workers off your core product to maintain a DIY legacy solution, consider an audit of total cost of ownership — and if the growing tech debt is worth it. 

Advantages of Upgrading: Pouring money into an outdated system is a little like patching a hole in a sunk boat. Investing in a better solution may seem like effort, but long-term the benefits probably outweigh the costs.

From dev productivity to happier customers, your Identity solution should be working for you, not holding you back or creating extra work and expenses.


Lifen saved $130,000 annually by upgrading from their own first in-house Identity solution, and was able to improve time-to-market for remote monitoring during the COVID-19 outbreak. 


Learn more about choosing the right Identity solution for your SMB


Note: Already sure it’s time for an upgrade? We have you covered with the CIAM Buyer’s Guide


Recognizing signs of an outdated login isn’t all bad: those are signs you’re ready for the next stage of your business journey, and proactively upgrading can position your SMB for success in a competitive landscape. While an outdated login may be keeping you from enhanced security, seamless user experiences, and operational efficiency, those are all still attainable, and the problems solvable — it may seem like a heavy lift, but with the right tools it doesn’t have to be. 


When you have Identity nailed, you’re set to move faster and more efficiently. CIAM should not only meet current needs but set you up for success and future growth. Embracing the power of modern Identity solutions unlocks the full potential of your small business.

To navigate the complex landscape of Identity solutions, consider the following steps:

Evaluate Business Needs: Understand your business's specific Identity requirements, taking into account current and future needs.

Research Available Options: Research and compare various Identity solution providers, assessing their features, pricing, and scalability.

Seek Professional Advice: Consulting with experts in the field can provide invaluable insights into the best-fit solution for your SMB's unique needs.

Curious about the benefits of upgrading for your unique business? Reach out to an Okta expert.


Related resources

Secure your Small Business with Identity 

Why Customer Identity?

How to Create the Identity Experience Your Customers Want

Build vs. Buy: Customer Identity and Access Management 

How to Choose Your CIAM Solution