How Three Brands Are Reinventing Their Customer Experience Using CIAM

Sitting at the intersection of security, customer experience, and analytics, it is easy to see why Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is top-of-mind for organisations who want to provide hyper-relevant and personalised brand interactions. 

Each company has its own distinct way of interacting with customers. However, when it comes to CIAM adoption, many share the same goal: to organise customer information on the back end, to create a seamless, secure experience on the front end.

But what does CIAM look like in practice?

In this post we bring you three examples of how completely different organisations are enhancing their most important customer-facing experiences with identity management – and what practical steps they take to ensure these initiatives succeed.  

Royal Belgian Football Association: Kicking off a new generation of football fandom

In 2018, when the Red Devils reached the World Cup semi-final for the second time in history with a prodigiously talented squad, the success was credited to the team effort of the Belgian football community: players, trainers, referees, administrators, parents of young talent, volunteers, and, of course, the fans. Championing the interest of these groups is the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), Belgium’s governing football federation.

Founded in 1895, the RBFA is the administrative organisation of Belgium’s favourite sport. To make every match a success, it keeps stakeholders informed and engaged via the new RBFA app where fans can buy tickets, and see results and statistics. But while the RBFA has long been Belgium’s central authority on all things football, its digital platforms weren’t always centralised.

In the past, fans had to log in to different customer portals to buy tickets or browse merchandise. They couldn’t set up a central profile to support their teams from their own personal football hub. With features spread across separate platforms, the RBFA lacked a single view on fan activity. To create a smoother user experience and a richer football community with a 360-degree customer view for better insights, the RBFA decided to revamp its customer platforms with a digital transformation strategy in 2019. 

“We wanted to create a more personalised fan experience and to improve our services for clubs, players, and partners,” explains Koen Landsheere, IT Manager at the RBFA. To create a single RBFA hub, from which all its stakeholders can access all RBFA services, Koen and his team had to consolidate all its platforms within a single customer identity and management solution. To that end, the RBFA turned to Okta. It began by using Okta to consolidate existing user identities, which were previously stored in multiple repositories. 

With support from Upright Security as its implementation partner, the first phase of the project was concluded only four months later, with all 700,000 users migrated to Okta’s User Management and the most user-heavy applications successfully onboarded. Because both old and new ways of logging in were supported during the migration, users didn’t experience any service disruption and were able to keep their existing passwords.  

Today, instead of managing multiple accounts to keep up with their football needs, fans and other stakeholders use Single Sign-On on a portal called E-Kickoff to gain access to all RBFA platforms and solutions in one place. The new 360-degree view of the customer enables the RBFA and its partners to cater their content more effectively to the interests of users, while strengthening the bond with sponsors and advertisers. Critical applications are protected with Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication and both employees and customers use Okta Verify and Google Authenticator as second-level authentication factors. 

Next, the RBFA wants to integrate more customer and workforce applications with Okta, including the newly built chatbot. Users will be able to authenticate directly in the chat window, accessing information from there. “The Belgian football community is stronger than ever, and Okta enables us to provide fans, players, parents, coaches, and other stakeholders with unique and frictionless football experiences,” says Koen. 

HDI: Reliable protection, whatever may come

The desire for unique and frictionless digital experiences reverberates across other industries, too. Studies, for example, show that more than half of 16 to 29-year-olds expect to have a fully digital insurance purchase and claims experience when something goes wrong in their lives. And because insurance providers should relieve stress, not add to it, customers expect their online interactions with them to be extremely smooth. As one of Europe’s leading insurance groups, German insurer HDI is more than aware of this. It is continually harnessing innovative digital products to meet its customers’ changing expectations and needs. 

But Niklas Lammers, IT Project Manager at HDI Systeme AG, the company’s IT division, also knows that the shift to digital works only if supported by the correct safety and security measures. “We’re dealing with large amounts of highly sensitive data and our identity and access management systems always have to be up for that task,” he explains. So, when looking for a centralised system with state-of-the-art defence against unauthorised permission, he turned to Okta.

Today, HDI uses Okta Identity Cloud to fully authenticate users and simultaneously create access tokens. With Directory Integration, connecting the new identity component to the existing directory was simple. “Centralising our identity management with Okta helped to streamline workflows into an elegant authentication system, which has reduced maintenance costs and improved the customer experience with faster logins,” says Niklas. 

With HDI’s new token system up and running, Niklas and his team are now extending the depth and scope of their Okta integration. They are adding new features to the customer portal and connecting more customer-facing services to the centralised identity management platform. 

Next, to make the digital identities of its customers even safer, HDI is going to roll out Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication. It also plans to use Okta for its entire Lifecycle Management to boost its time-to-market for new features and simplify registrations and account closures to give customers more control over their account experience.

“Our customers don’t want to spend time managing their accounts. That’s why social logins via social media platforms are gaining popularity, and this is just one of many integrations Okta supports,” says Niklas. “With Okta, we’re future-proofing our ability to give customers their ideal login experience.” 


Standard Life Aberdeen: Empowering clients with autonomy, confidence, and security

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Standard Life Aberdeen is also investing in building the best possible customer experience for its clients now and in the future. For more than 200 years, it’s been empowering its customers to make good choices with their life savings. Among other things, it provides and maintains a digital platform that enables both direct customers and clients of financial advisers to manage their life savings online. Up to 300,000 people currently use the Standard Life Aberdeen platform to access professional guidance on their life savings, and 2,000 adviser firms rely on the platform to design a personalised financial service for their clients. 

To help advisers in their task, the Standard Life Aberdeen platform compiles client information to give them a complete picture of their clients’ needs and to enable them to manage client assets directly on the platform. Meanwhile, clients themselves can have access to a mirrored Standard Life Aberdeen portal connected to this platform. From here they can track the value and performance of their investments securely. This platform has been live for 14 years, and from an asset under management perspective, is one of the largest in the UK. 

But over the past three decades, the industry has evolved at an ever-increasing pace due to regulatory changes, advances in technology, and growing demand for financial advice. Ian Cocker, Head of Proposition Delivery at Standard Life Aberdeen, explains that to keep up with all this, as well as the ever-evolving needs of its clients, the company has changed its approach to technology: “Instead of building and maintaining our IT solutions in-house, we now partner with the best technology providers in the market whenever we need to set up new functionalities on our platform to better serve our clients in a timely manner, and continue to deliver optimum digital solutions,” he says. It was this thinking that led the company to reach out to Okta in 2019 when planning an upgrade to its client portal. 

Clients currently use the portal under view-only permissions to look at how their investment decisions are performing. But within the next two to three years, Standard Life Aberdeen aims to also enable simple transactional capabilities that don’t require financial advice, such as topping up savings and increasing regular payments. To that end, the company selected a range of Okta Customer Identity and Access Management solutions to maximise both the security of its portal and the self-service capability of resetting passwords and unlocking accounts. 

“Before sealing the deal, we gave our senior IT architects full access to Okta to play around with the solutions, to really understand if they’d integrate easily with our setup and if they would meet our needs,” Ian recalls. “We were impressed with how easy it was to use Okta and how flexibly we could use it to manage our different user segments.”   

Using Okta’s Authorisation and User Management capabilities, Standard Life Aberdeen is now creating and managing user profiles for different client segments, each with its own access rights. “Security is a huge consideration in our industry,” says Steve Watson, Senior Propositions Manager at Standard Life Aberdeen. “We want to give our clients more autonomy so they can use our portal to practice what they learn from advisers, not just view their investments. While enabling this, we want to safeguard their financial data. Security must walk hand-in-hand with client experience, and Okta is helping us deliver both,” he concludes. 


A focus on identity is foundational for achieving a single view of your customers, allowing you to create the ideal customer journey for multiple user types across devices, channels, and geographies. Visit our CIAM page to learn more about how you too can support your most important customer-facing initiatives with identity management.