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Want to create a great customer experience? Modernize Your IAM

Want to create a great customer experience? Modernize Your IAM

If organizations want to build customer trust, it is important to modernize their Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) platforms as part of their digital transformation.

"This is seismic change," said Evan O'Regan, associate partner, Digital Trust and IAM, IBM. "Traditional approaches keep the system silent and fail to provide that seamless customer experience." Trust is lost when the identification process is too complicated or frustrating.

O'Regan made the comments during the 2021 ITWC Digital Transformation Kickoff, where IBM announced good news for Canadian customers. IBM's Identity as a Service (IDaS) solution, IBM Security Verification, is now available with Canadian Data Residency, said Dhruv Suther, director of IBM Security Canada. "It's really a solution built for Canada. IT is a purpose-built identity platform that meets the data residency and data sovereignty requirements of Canadian organizations," Suther said. "It provides a truly friction-free consumer experience. It also helps organizations modernize their customer identity and access management approach."

It can be difficult to balance user experience with security requirements, especially after a year when breaches caused data loss records to be broken. Panel members said organizations are struggling to stay afloat in the cybersecurity arms race. "Zero Trust and CIAM should be the most important issues facing your business today," O'Regan said.

Why consumer IAM has to be changed

O'Regan said consumer IAM affects the company's return on investment and brand trust. Eight-four percent of companies that improve the customer experience report an increase in revenue. 73 percent of consumers say a great experience is the key to influencing brand loyalty. At the same time, 25 percent of users say that if the experience is bad, then they will leave the app after using it once.

"You need to take a holistic approach to designing your world around your customer journey, not a device-centric approach," O'Regan said. After all, it's not about password resets, he said. "It's about how the customer buys the coffee (or anything else)."

For a seamless customer experience, transactional communication is required across multiple systems at the back end. "You have to build it into your applications and bring it together in a repeatable approach," O'Regan said. "If you are trying to accomplish CIAM without change, it will fail."

How to Incorporate Zero Trust in CIAM

Going forward, CIAM should be based on zero trust principles. To do this, the customer journey must be broken down into fundamental blocks, O'Regan said. "You're going to wrap every block with a security context for every user, every system, every time," he said. One of the best ways to reduce friction is through adaptive authentication. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand customer regular patterns, O'Regan explained. If there is any deviation from the pattern, a system should be put in place to challenge the customer with an additional factor of authentication.

To incorporate Zero Trust, an organization must take an extremely deliberate approach by following three steps:

Taking an "Unvarnished Look" at the current situation. Typically, this takes the form of an IAM or CIAM assessment, O'Regan said.
Develop a strategy and a plan. "Strategy is about what is good for your particular business and how to set priorities," O'Regan said.
Pursue excellence in execution. "I guarantee there will be problems," O'Regan said. "You have to be able to pivot and not let these things take you out of your schedule."

O'Regan recommends that organizations seek professional services to help them design a zero trust program for their specific situation. At the end of the day, this approach will put IT in a better position to contribute to the business, O'Regan said. "And that's where the magic happens."

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