Customer identity and access management (CIAM) is a relatively new technology solution. It emerged in the late 2000s as the widespread adoption of online shopping, social media, and smartphones accelerated digital business.
Given that CIAM is a recent development, it’s understandable that there is some confusion about the unique aspects of CIAM and how it differs from traditional employee identity and access management, typically referred to as IAM.
After all, the two acronyms, CIAM and IAM, share three letters. Both have to do with identity and access management. But it’s whose identity and access that sets them apart.
Employee IAM originated in the world of local servers, firewalls, and dumb terminals, where much of the network security was based on the limits of physical location. The main purpose of IAM is control—dictating what systems employees can access and keeping everyone else out. Employees are a captive and static group. They have to comply with whatever login process the company uses, and their numbers don’t change much.
Customer IAM, on the other hand, has emerged in an age of universal Wi-Fi and mobile devices, where data is in the cloud and consumers could be anywhere in the world. CIAM has two main goals—attracting customers with a smooth and easy digital experience and earning their trust with solid data and account security.
Customers are a fickle and evolving group. If they don’t like the experience a brand offers, they’ll go elsewhere. And their numbers grow and even spike during peak periods. B2C companies don’t have direct control over customers the way they do over employees. So their login processes need to be customer-centric to win consumers over.
With such different and even conflicting goals for IAM and CIAM, it doesn’t make sense to deploy a single solution. Pure CIAM platforms like LoginRadius are engineered from Day 1 to serve the access needs of B2C companies and their customers.
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