Top Reasons to Consider Using a CIAM Platform

Keith Graham
Keith Graham
  • Feb 24, 2021
  • 5 min read

This blog lays out the top reasons to consider using a CIAM platform when planning your customer identity journey.

Lower Cost of Development

When using a properly qualified commercially available CIAM platform a brand is guaranteed delivery of the CIAM capabilities that are needed to meet their business requirements. This helps mitigate the risk of cost overruns or delivery delays due to scope or market changes.

Business requirements also change so this also helps avoid changes in the development team’s priorities which may contribute further to delay.

It is also worth bearing in mind that while the initial development costs are one thing, there is still the issue of ongoing maintenance of any in-house developed code, the dependency on tribal knowledge to maintain that code base, as well as the management of any third-party dependencies - such as the use of open or closed source components which a homegrown set of capabilities may depend.

Lower Cost of Ownership and Operation

In addition to any initial development costs and on-going development costs, any homegrown CIAM capability will also require hosting to operationalize its capabilities. Whether this is on-premises in an organization’s own data center or hosted in a private cloud using a hosting provider such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. These hosting/hosted environments still require monitoring (for reliability and security), CI/CD management and platform expertise for the underlying infrastructure.

If building CIAM capabilities in-house, brands also must consider the testing effort and investment required in quality assurance (QA). QA will be needed to ensure that any capabilities not only work as expected, but that they’re secure (any authentication/security controls cannot be circumvented), performant under load and can scale appropriately.

Avoid Time to Market Delays

The adoption of a CIAM platform that can meet a brand's digital transformation needs will help avoid any delay to production service and any opportunity cost by saving development time resulting in quicker time to market. With most homegrown CIAM projects resulting in time to market delays of up to 6 months, any brand looking to use a commercially available CIAM platform can mitigate this risk altogether.

Keep the Team Focused on the Core Business

A brand's application development team are experts in building capabilities that help them drive the core of their business via any customer-facing applications.

By minimizing the amount of time spent learning about the diverse set of IAM technologies and CIAM capabilities, a brand can maximize the time the development team spends focused on what they are the best at – delivering functionality for their market and giving them the best chance at keeping pace competitively, while delighting customers, and gaining more market share and driving revenue.

Keep Pace and Benefit from Market Changes

A major benefit of using a commercially available CIAM platform is that brands can more easily keep pace with IAM market changes, new standards and trends (technologies), and ways to solve problems that a brand and its application owner may not have considered. Keeping pace with new developments can help any brand gain a competitive advantage over others.

Brands should seek to benefit from the thought leadership that can be gained through the trusted advisory relationship between a brand and their partner - the CIAM platform provider.

Reduce the Risk of a Security Incident

The use of identity information and the effectiveness of using stolen credentials by attackers is now widely accepted as a major attack vector that's used to orchestrate account takeover and identity theft.

Any commercially available CIAM platform must help reduce any risks to both the brand and the customer by the detection - then swift remediation of an incident, not if, but when it occurs. Brands can only do this by ensuring they have the following security related challenges adequately covered.

If a brand is considering building in-house, then they need to ensure they have these risk mitigating capabilities covered. We'll cover this in greater depth in a future blog.

Reduce Regulatory Risk

The increasing global requirements around regulatory compliance are only increasing the complexity of managing PII and sensitive customer information. While regulations vary regionally, any global business needs to ensure that they comply with - and can prove that they can comply with local laws where they have customers. Examples include the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the State of California’s California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

In the event of the occurrence of a breach, any inadequate controls may lead to severe financial and reputation damage to a brand.

Scale and Reliability

When it comes to scale and reliability, the negative consequences of not considering either, as a customer base grows, can be catastrophic for any organization. Additionally, it can be challenging to figure out the potential choke points based on the unpredictability of customer usage, especially with globally distributed customer bases. These types of uncontrolled burst activity, if not properly planned for, also result in costly spikes in hosting and compute costs.

If a customer fails to use a brand’s portal or application due to its poor performance, stability, or reliability, then they (the customer) are likely to take their business elsewhere.


This blog is an excerpt taken from the whitepaper, "An Evaluator's Guide to Buying or Building CIAM".

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