Turning Identity Management Inside Out: Overcoming the Consumer Data Challenge

Each time a consumer registers for a website or mobile app, creates a social network profile or makes an online purchase, a new identity is created. Amidst the flood of identity-data pouring in across channels, businesses are beginning to realize that to maintain an accurate and structured view of their customers, they must develop a consumer identity management strategy.

However, many businesses are failing to rise to this challenge as they attempt to turn their existing, internal identity access management (IAM) solutions “inside out” and use them for external purposes. But employee and customer identity management require two totally separate solutions that speak to disparate goals, requirements and capabilities.

Let’s examine the reasons why traditional IAM solutions cannot be used for consumer identity access management (cIAM) purposes, and 3 key database requirements for effective external data management.

Greater Scalability

As one of the most successful companies in the world, Facebook boasts over 7,000 employees worldwide. Now, compare this to Facebook’s 1.32 billion monthly active users, who generate over 2.5 billion shares and 2.7 billion Likes every day.

While even the world’s largest businesses manage thousands of employee identities at the most, customer identities can range well into the billions. Think about it: how effectively can a system built to handle 7,000 identities scale to manage over 1.3 billion?

The flood of consumer channels and devices has resulted in an overwhelming volume of identities and data that internal legacy systems simply weren’t made to handle. An effective cIAM solution is built from the ground-up to scale to manage hundreds to billions of customers and the countless exabytes of data they create – all while maintaining security standards from both a data collection and storage perspective.

Data Normalization

Traditionally, internal company and employee data is collected and stored in a structured and controlled manner, with your business identifying and defining necessary fixed fields and models.

In contrast, your customers are constantly creating new types of data from continually diversifying sources. Essentially, every new unstructured data point can mean a major update to your legacy solution, and with 90% of today’s “big data” being unstructured (BusinessInsider), this is a “big problem.”

Businesses cite the inability to automate structured and unstructured data quickly and effectively as one of their biggest challenges (Kapow Software) – a challenge that can be solved by adopting a consumer identity database built to manage and consolidate the volume and variety of consumer identity-data.

This database should have the power to reconcile both structured and unstructured data without the need to preconfigure database fields, and automatically index any type of data thrown your way, including social, transactional and behavioral. Combine this with the ability to integrate with your existing third party marketing platforms and business systems, and your business has an organizational game-changer: a single source of customer truth.

Automated Privacy Compliance

Perhaps the most crucial difference between internal and external identity management comes down to privacy. Internal data privacy is managed centrally and based primarily on policies put into place by the business itself. Not to mention, when an employee creates data during work hours, on a business-owned device or within a company application, this data indisputably belongs to that business.

However, as a consumer moves across the Internet on an owned device leveraging services and applications for personal use, this data belongs to her. Any business looking to access this data must do so in a transparent and permission-based manner and adhere to the countless privacy policies upheld by lawmakers and third-party identity providers.

As you begin to incorporate registration systems across your external facing sites and apps and focus on customer identity, make sure that you choose a provider that can take on managing these privacy updates. Your cIAM solution should provide automatic, real-time API updates to reflect policy and account changes, such as auto-deletion of non-basic account information when application permissions are revoked.

For more information about developing a cIAM strategy, watch our webinar, “Customer Identities Are A Whole Different Bunch,” with special guest Andras Cser of Forrester on demand.

By Tobias Meyer-Grunow