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What is Driving Businesses to Adopt CIAM?

For consumers and the businesses wanting to engage with them through digital channels, lines are blurring between cause, (the technologies a business uses to enable a more personalized and engaging customer experience) and effect, (the customer experience itself). This is one reason why it’s now vital for businesses with multi-channel digital programs to establish direct relationships with their customers.

Take Alexa, for example, the voice assistant that powers Amazon’s popular Echo speakers. Recently, the convenience and fun factors that have kept the Echo series flying off the shelves have been somewhat offset by the prospect of precocious six-year-olds ordering up cookies and dollhouses for home delivery on a whim. To avoid this type of mistaken identity scenario, Amazon is developing a new feature that would allow Alexa to distinguish between individual users based on their voices. Assuming the feature works well and is received positively, we can expect Google, Microsoft, Apple, and the other players in the market to follow suit.

Of course, there’s also the broader issue that many people are skeptical about whether these tech giants are truly dedicated to — or indeed even fully capable of — protecting the privacy of their users and ensuring that their highly sensitive personal data is secure. Time alone will tell, but, beyond conversational robots, we’re seeing broader trends in the market that point to a clear need for businesses to build direct and trusted two-way relationships with customers by offering ongoing value-for-information exchanges throughout their journeys. In short, to remain competitive and compliant, businesses need to know who their customers are, not just what they do.

New Digital Realities

The landscape continues to shift for customer-obsessed stakeholders across the enterprise. Why?

Mega-Trends in the Global Marketplace

Customer Experience is Everything and Everything is Digital

Digital transformation is now the center of marketing, advertising and sales strategy across every industry and region, with today’s consumers demanding a seamless and relevant experience across online and offline channels and devices.

Consumers and Regulators Demand Privacy, Security and Control of Personal Data

With the rise of increasingly severe cybersecurity incidents and concerns over poor or unethical business practices, governments and their citizens are rewriting the rules for online commerce and the collection and management of consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII).

Today’s Enterprise Must Be Agile to Compete

Today’s complex, omnichannel strategies demand business agility to enable even the largest enterprises to react to micro moments and to engage an increasingly savvy and mobile audience where they are in real time.

CIAM Mega-trends

Mega-Challenges for the Modern Enterprise

Yesterday’s Strategies and Systems Won’t Cut It

Legacy technologies for registration, login and profile management are not scalable, flexible or secure enough to handle the volume, variety and velocity of data required to drive frictionless and relevant customer experiences across brands, regions and devices. For example, businesses who take a “do-it-yourself” approach when building customer registration, authentication, and profile, preference and consent management systems frequently encounter technological and financial roadblocks that get in the way of achieving their objectives. These typically take the form of extensive custom coding and connectors to third-party applications, as well as physical infrastructure.

It’s Now an Imperative to Manage Customer Consent Across the Buyer Journey. It’s Also Really Hard

To deliver personalized experiences without running afoul of privacy regulators or driving away suspicious consumers, businesses must maintain transparency about how they collect data and how it will be used throughout the customer lifecycle, but siloed data and outdated registration and profile, preference and consent management systems often stand in the way.

Deploying and Orchestrating Homegrown Identity Solutions at Scale can be Costly, Time Consuming and Ineffective

To drive revenue through digital transformation, large, multinational companies often manage multiple brands and operate across many geographical regions, using cross-channel strategies specific to each brand and region. Despite their complexity, these types of enterprises must nonetheless quickly and consistently deploy new applications and services as needed while maintaining strict administrative control and security or privacy compliance. Keeping up with growth also means fast, on-demand scaling, typically not easy to do with homegrown solutions.

What is Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM)?

CIAM is now recognized by business leaders and technology research analysts as a prime driver of effective digital transformation. So, what is customer identity and access management, how does it help bridge the gap between customer experience and consumer privacy, and what are the key elements of an effective CIAM solution?

In essence, CIAM helps businesses:

  1. seamlessly identify and engage consumers across channels and devices;
  2. securely build and manage rich online profiles while giving customers full control over the data in their accounts, as well as their preferences and consent; and
  3. deliver better experiences, products and services by integrating first-party consumer data across the digital technology stack.

Based on these three key functions, core CIAM components can likewise be grouped into three functional categories: connect (user registration, login and engagement), collect (customer profile, preference and consent management), and convert (analytics and integration of customer data across the business).

CONNECT: Seamlessly and Securely Onboard and Engage Online Visitors

A mature, cloud-based CIAM platform provides a flexible and scalable way to turn unknown online visitors into known, loyal customers, with best practice registration and login screens and flows customizable to any business case. These vendors also support multiple authentication methods, including traditional username and password flows, social login, single sign-on (SSO) functionality — through SAML federation, OAuth and OpenID Connect (social) — biometrics, two-factor SMS authentication and more. These capabilities help businesses create a frictionless and secure “front door” for customers across channels and devices.

Also, the best CIAM solutions offer out-of-the-box social engagement and loyalty features that help businesses deliver real-time value as they profile their customers to encourage engagement and drive audience insights.

Connect icon


Gigya’s approach to secure customer registration, login, engagement and loyalty.

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COLLECT: Manage Customer Profiles, Preferences and Consent in a Centralized, Adaptive and Dynamic Profile Management System

Top CIAM providers help businesses manage customer data within a centralized, secure and compliant platform designed for today’s global B2C enterprise. Advanced profile management databases easily capture, aggregate, query and segment a wide volume and variety of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. From PII profile information to behavioral and psychographic attributes, data is updated and normalized in real time for immediate query by business users and administrators.

Also, comprehensive customer preference management features help businesses build trust with customers as they manage their identities by enabling customers to maintain full visibility and control over what data is collected from them and how it is used. The best providers allow businesses to customize opt-in, preference and data control flows using intuitive UI builders, extensible markup language or via direct API access.


Gigya’s approach to transparent profile, consent and preference management.

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CONVERT: Easily Integrate Customer Data Across Every Application and Service in your Digital Technology Stack

Leading, cloud-based CIAM platforms can collect and manage an astounding variety of customer data in a holistic and centralized way, making it possible to leverage that information across the technology stack to improve cross-channel experiences and grow revenue.

Best-in-breed providers build deep integrations via RESTful API interfaces into a variety of digital marketing, sales and services technologies. This allows businesses to leverage cloud-based solutions to quickly build or retool strategies at a minimum of time and cost.

Additionally, leading CIAM platforms feature comprehensive extract, transform and load (ETL) functions to aggregate records across data silos into the CIAM database, or to load profile and behavioral data from CIAM records into outboard systems for immediate use, optimizing data accuracy and organization while enabling a true single view across the business.

Finally, enterprise agility and scale are vital for large-scale CIAM projects, but not all CIAM solutions are created equal. Some specialize in in-house small, single-property projects that developers can build with open-source or custom code. Others attempt to shoehorn a legacy employee identity management solution into the customer identity use case, with generally inconsistent results. Few CIAM solutions, however, are built specifically to serve consumers, nor architected to handle the rigors of performance and internet scale demanded by large, multi-brand and multi-region implementations.


Typical CIAM technology integrations:

  • Marketing automation and email
  • Content management systems (CMS)
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Data management platforms (DMP)
  • E-commerce, retail and on-site applications
  • Recommendation engines
  • Web analytics
  • Personalization
  • Data onboarding solutions

Drive revenue with customer data!

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What Do the Analysts Think?

Given the specific business challenges solved by CIAM providers, top technology analysts across the globe have aligned around recommending that, especially for large enterprises with global customer bases, CIAM be built deep into the framework of any digital transformation initiative.

In several recent research reports, analysts cite the need for businesses to effectively identify and engage customers across an increasingly complex, multi-channel buyer journey, new imperatives for respecting consumers’ privacy and giving them control over their profiles and preferences, and the ongoing challenge of staying agile and innovative in rapidly changing market conditions.

Gartner, Forrester and KuppingerCole all have specific recommendations about navigating the CIAM market and rigorous criteria for selecting vendors.

Gartner: Critical Capabilities for Identity and Access Management as a Service, Worldwide, September 29, 2017

Gartner on the Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) Business-to-Consumer (B2C) use case:

“The business-to-consumer use case focuses on IAM to on-premises and cloud-based web applications for consumers.

Social identity integration can significantly enhance a consumer’s user experience by reducing login and account creation friction, and also by providing attributes that enable a website to provide a richer, more personalized experience, in turn deepening customer intimacy. Accordingly, this critical capability is weighted most heavily for the business to consumer use case.

The authentication critical capability is also weighted heavily because many organizations will need additional assurance that the end user is a real person (not a bot) or is a specific individual. This is particularly important in situations where the end user will have access to sensitive information that will require some level of step-up authentication or adaptive access processing.

Finally, profile and password management is weighted heavily for the B2C use case since this capability is essential to rounding out a secure, unified and compelling customer experience.”

Gartner: Critical Capabilities for Identity and Access Management as a Service, Worldwide, September 29, 2017 - Chart

Forrester: The Forrester Wave™: Customer Identity and Access Management, Q2 2017

Forrester on the key capabilities to look for in CIAM vendors:

CIAM Enables Personal Trusted Digital Experiences

Today’s digital businesses need deep customer insights to successfully deliver new products and services that can increase customers’ engagement and brand loyalty while maintaining their security and privacy. Customer identity and access management (CIAM), if done well, can help business owners achieve this outcome. CIAM solutions enable business executives to:

Streamline new customer acquisition and registration processes. Allowing customers to use bring-your-own-identity (BYOI) from a recognized social identity provider such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, or PayPal, and preregister on a site is a large component of many CIAM implementations. Social login minimizes registration fatigue, which can occur when users have to create a new account just to complete a transaction at a new site, and minimizes the risk of a new user abandoning a site altogether. CIAM platforms give organizations the ability to build compelling registration pages and support a wide range of social identity providers, which is increasingly important for global brands with diverse customer bases that require support for other regional-specific providers such as Orkut, VK, and WeChat.

Manage user consent to meet compliance with global privacy requirements. Consumers expect brands to accommodate their preferences so that they can decide how firms use their data. Multinational brands with millions of customers must address various demands. The complexity of the changing multijurisdictional aspects of privacy compliance, together with the looming GDPR compliance deadline, means that digital businesses need mechanisms to verify ongoing compliance with consumer privacy mandates, because even the slightest violation can have a material impact on a brand or company. CIAM platforms can assist with these challenges.

Provide user-centric capabilities for preference management. A CIAM deployment must allow consumers to update their preferences (e.g., opting out of marketing communications). Strong privacy management in a CIAM implementation empowers consumers to determine how firms collect and use their personal data and must be a core component of any implementation.

Provide a consistent, secure omnichannel user experience. Multiple logins cause a fractured value delivery mechanism across channels and devices, which can cause customers to seek competitors’ services. Eliminating multiple logins is, therefore, the first step for providing low-friction services to customers. As organizations build in capabilities that remove friction, customers buy more, have more trust, and stay engaged longer. CIAM platforms provide the ability to build consistent and compelling customer interactions, regardless of the access methods, to ensure that customers remain engaged and loyal.

Deliver identity reporting and analytics. CIAM platforms collect a wide range of data about customers’ digital interactions. The platform can feed this data into other business intelligence or CRM systems, and eBusiness or customer experience professionals can leverage the data internally within the platform.

Integrate with other customer-centric systems of insight. CIAM initiatives increasingly sit at the nexus of multiple digital initiatives. While CIAM solutions provide a range of useful data on their own, these solutions complement other technologies such as content management, personalization engines, CRM, and marketing automation solutions. In response, CIAM platforms are emphasizing integration via documented RESTful APIs to these systems to help digital businesses obtain a comprehensive view of every individual customer.

Forrester: The Forrester Wave™: Customer Identity and Access Management, Q2 2017

KuppingerCole: Leadership Compass — CIAM Platforms, 2017

Excerpted from the report:

“Consumer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is a sub-genre of traditional Identity and Access Management (IAM) that has emerged in the last few years to meet evolving business requirements. Many businesses and public sector organizations are finding that they must provide better digital experiences for and gather more information about the consumers who are using their services. Enterprises want to collect, store, and analyze data on consumers in order to create additional sales opportunities and increase brand loyalty.”

“CIAM goes beyond traditional IAM in commonly supporting some baseline features for analyzing customer behavior, as well as integration into CRM and marketing automation systems.”

“CIAM at first glance seems very much like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. However, it differs from CRM in that, with CRM systems, sales and marketing professionals are counted upon to enter the data about the contacts, prospects, and track the sales cycle. The focus of CRM is managing all processes around the customer relationship, while CIAM focuses on the connectivity with the customer when accessing any type of systems, on premises and in the Cloud, from registration to tracking. With CIAM, to some extent similar kinds of information as in CRM systems can be collected, but the consumers themselves provide and maintain this information.”

“Consumer IAM systems are designed to provision, authenticate, authorize, collect and store information about consumers from across many domains. Unlike regular IAM systems though, information about these consumers often arrives from many unauthoritative sources. Some solutions in this space provide connections to various identity proofing services to strengthen the veracity of the consumer attributes…Moreover, CIAM systems must be able to manage many millions of identities, and process potentially billions of logins and other transactions per day.”

“Support for self-registration and social network logins is now nearly ubiquitous among vendors; and the key differentiators have become the use of new technologies to:

  • comply with privacy regulations
  • step up the user’s authentication assurance level
  • collect and analyze information for fraud prevention
  • collect and analyze information for marketing purposes
  • connect consumer identities to IoT device identities, e.g. Smart Home devices and apps”

“IT departments should welcome CIAM initiatives, as they provide an opportunity for IT, usually considered a “cost center”, to closely team with Marketing, a revenue producing center.”

KuppingerCole: Leadership Compass — CIAM Platforms, 2017

CIAM in the Wild: Customer Identity Success Stories

Analyst research can illuminate concepts that explain the value of a technology category, but the real proof lies with businesses who’ve successfully leveraged that technology to achieve specific goals. Let’s look at some real-world examples of large organizations driving new opportunities and outcomes with customer identity, made possible by employing Gigya’s flexible CIAM platform.

American Cancer Society Gains a Complete View of Constituents

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is no stranger to effective outreach, with more than three million volunteers fighting cancer and saving lives in communities across America. The efforts of ACS and their constituents have helped bring about a 20-percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991.

The Challenge

A fast-growing user base had the ACS looking for a way to manage its army of volunteers, donors and participants securely and efficiently. According to CIO Jay Ferro, “We needed an enterprise solution for customer authentication and identity management that could scale to accommodate our millions of users, and we knew traditional IAM was not the answer.” Also, members of the ACS’ online user base have widely varying roles and stakes in the organization, so Ferro sought a customer identity solution that could lay across their digital technology stack to uncover a deeper understanding of all their constituents.

The Solution

ACS stakeholders leveraged Gigya’s Registration-as-a-Service (RaaS), Social Login and Single Sign-on features to enable constituents to easily register with a username and password or log in with existing Facebook credentials to gain access to the organization’s numerous sites, including and

Meanwhile, captured data is collected, normalized and made available for immediate query and use across a variety of disparate systems within Gigya’s dynamic schema Profile Management database, which also facilitates full lifecycle consent, profile and preference management — helping the ACS stay compliant with regional data privacy requirements.

The Benefits

A seamless authentication and single sign-on solution across multiple web properties led to more than 1.8 million new user registrations, with approximately 360,000 of them logging in via Facebook. ACS is now able to collect a wealth of rich, first-party information from socially registered users, including their demographics, relationship status, Facebook Likes and more.

Since the same unique identities are visible across programs and domains, the ACS now enjoys a true “360-degree” view of each donor, participant and volunteer, wherever and whenever they engage with the organization. This allows the organization to tailor content specifically to user profiles, develop constituent scoring models and identify its power users, enabling, among other things, new opportunities to engage with its younger members.

About Gigya’s platform, Ferro stated, “As an organization with more than 2.5 million volunteers and millions of donors, we saw Gigya as the logical choice for a stable and effective identity management solution that integrated seamlessly with our technology stack.”

American Cancer Society success highlights: 1.8 million registrations; 20% of users logging in socially

Nutricia-Danone Uses Customer Identity to Optimize their Customer Experience and Supply Chain

Nutricia-Danone, a leading multinational food company that emphasizes consumer health and nutrition, is known as the inventor of modern baby formula and dominates market share for goods and content for moms and babies in the Netherlands.

The Challenge

According to technology and CX manager, Max Goijarts, “We realized that the only way to effectively retain and service our customers and protect our market share was to properly identify buyers.” The company also saw an opportunity to learn more about their customers while engaging parents on a more personal level.

The Solution

To identify and engage buyers wherever they are, Nutricia-Danone implemented Gigya’s Registration-as-a-Service (RaaS) features across a variety of web properties, as well as a fleet of “smart” baby formula vending machines distributed throughout the Netherlands. The goal was to incentivize consumers to self-identify and share certain information before making purchases or taking other actions.

This way, the business could better understand what products were being purchased by what customers in each location, to help match supply to demand in a granular way and to ensure that customers consistently have access to their preferred products. As visitors enter through traditional or social registration flows, data is consolidated into rich profiles within Gigya’s Profile Management database and immediately indexed and made actionable across the business.

The Benefits

Nutricia-Danone now has the ability to build valuable profiles from data attributes such as relationship status, Facebook Likes, consumed content and more, collected during registration and social login flows, as well as through tracked activities as customers engage online or at vending machines in the field. Gaining this visibility of customers’ identities and behaviors enables Nutricia-Danone to monitor purchases across real-world and virtual touchpoints, analyze shoppers’ needs, and manage supply chains to ensure that all parents can get the formula they need for their babies, without having to turn to other brands.

A deeper understanding of its customer base also allows the company to offer personalized on-site and in-app experiences. Relevant articles can be surfaced based on the age of a shopper’s child, shorter content can be delivered to mobile users and email campaigns can be triggered by life events, such as a baby’s given due date. Also, Gigya helps Nutricia-Danone remains fully compliant with privacy and security laws, thanks to “privacy by design” principles and practices built into the framework of both its platform and implementation methodology.

Speaking about their successful Gigya implementation, Goijarts said, “Putting Gigya at the center of our customer experience has been a success. Not only can we identify and understand our customers, but we can use this data to drive relationships, retention and ultimately revenue across channels.”

Nutricia-Danone success highlights: 48% increase in average new registrations; 120% increase in average daily logins; achieved a single customer view across channels and devices; personalized user experiences through the use of permission-based first party data

Frontier Communications Standardizes Security and Centralizes Customers

Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FTR) offers broadband, voice, video and security solutions to residential and commercial customers in 28 U.S. states and is dedicated to enhancing lives and communities, one connection at a time.

The Challenge

To reduce postage costs and encourage users to switch to paperless billing, Frontier Communications needed a way to replace its internal registration and third-party online bill pay systems with a more seamless solution. Eric Del Sesto, VP of IT at Frontier, had this to say: “We knew that to give users a better experience, we needed to integrate customer identity management across the enterprise. Whatever solution we chose had to streamline registration on the front-end while standardizing security protocols on the back-end.”

The Solution

Gigya’s flexible Registration-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution allows Frontier Communications to quickly deploy custom registration forms and flows across its web and mobile properties, complete with identity validation and verification policies. All collected data is organized into unified profiles within Gigya’s Profile Management database, now the single source of truth across properties. Data privacy compliance, protection and quality is maintained automatically.

The Benefits

Implementing Gigya’s platform has resulted in a 60% increase in registered users across web properties and far more relevant customer experiences. One profile can now be connected to multiple billing accounts and users can access TV programming on any device based on their subscription permissions.

Gigya has also improved back-end data processes, making it easy to migrate existing users and scale for growth. This single, centralized repository has standardized password encryption, data storage and security across the enterprise. According to Sesto, “Working with Gigya keeps us up-to-date and compliant when it comes to security best practices for managing customer data: One user identity, one password and one way of encrypting and storing information.”

Frontier Communications success highlights: 60% increase in registered users; standardizing security best practices across the enterprise; streamlining registration on front-end and back-end; shifting from an account-centric to customer-centric view

Provident Financial’s Satsuma Loans Lends a More Personal Touch to Short-term Credit

Satsuma Loans, successfully launched by Provident Financial Group’s Personal Credit division in 2013, provides affordable short-term credit to its customers in the UK.

The Challenge

After launching and an initial proof of concept period of two years, Satsuma had no means of identifying customers and allowing them to create and maintain online profiles. This meant that there was no difference in the experience for a new or repeat customer, and stakeholders realized Satsuma was at a disadvantage compared with competitors who were interacting directly with individual customers over their lifecycle.

To enable customer login and account creation, the team at Satsuma began with a do-it-yourself approach but, according to John Grimbaldeston, senior marketing manager, customer retention and engagement, the result was “…quite small scale. It was functionally OK, but wasn’t best-in-class nor future proof.”

The Solution

After careful consideration, Satsuma chose to implement Gigya’s Customer Identity Management platform based on a recommendation from Adobe, a long-time Gigya partner whose products were already being used to manage user experience on Satsuma’s site. Gigya’s full-featured Registration-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution now gives new and existing customers a frictionless way to create and log into accounts.

The Benefits

Satsuma’s Gigya-powered registration system was up and running in three-and-a-half months, delivering immediate business value, with 9,500 loans for a total of £4.5 million processed for registered customers within the first four months alone. Also, there was an unexpected overall increase of 20 percent in average loan value after implementing Gigya’s platform owing to customers being incentivized with personalized offers. Notably, a total of 402,000 logins — or roughly 4,000-6,000 per day — occurred without a single service issue between late May and late September, 2016.

Gigya, with its advanced consent management features and functions, has also helped Satsuma manage compliance for a variety of government standards and regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

Describing how Satsuma’s data protection, IT security and money laundering officers felt about Gigya, Grimbaldeston said, “They’re massive supporters, because they see secure access management for customers as the enabler of security, privacy and data protection.” Grimbaldeston added, “This feels like it’s part one of maybe a two- or three-part story…we’ve had a fantastic experience so far; a very successful experience that worked well for what we wanted to do.”

Provident Financial Satsuma Loans success highlights: went live in less than 4 months; 20% increase in average loan value; 402,000 logins in 4 months without service issue; enabled data privacy compliance

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