Customer Identity & Access Management Series: The Beginning

Ah – 1991 – the year that minimum wage reached $4.25 per hour, Bryan Adams’ song (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, was on top of the charts for 2 months and the World Wide Web (WWW) went live to the world. Today, the World Wide Web hosts 4.57 billion users worldwide, which accounts for nearly 59% of the population. The evolution of the Internet has changed the way the world does business. By opening the door to Ecommerce, organizations began to sell their products online, instead of through brick and mortar channels. Consumers could now visit these Ecommerce websites and sign up for an account, place orders, pay with their credit cards or payment processing platforms, and have the item delivered right to their door. We saw online shopping sites, like Amazon and EBay entering the arena. Data became vital to how businesses operate, as did the need to embrace customer identities.

Identity & access management (IAM) platforms were already in place to manage the identities of their employees, partners, contractors and suppliers, long before the internet. With the introduction of Ecommerce, those IAM solutions were now tasked with managing customer identities as well. This includes information such as:

  • Registering customers
  • Authenticating customers
  • Connecting applications
  • Scaling multiple customer bases
  • Managing customer data

As organizations began to collect this data and information about their customers, the systems they had in place that were built to sustain the workforce were not equipped to withstand the changes required in this new digital world, or meet the needs of managing customer identities. Over time, these systems are often customized in a piecemeal fashion and can become costly to maintain. As more customer data is gathered, these issues become multiplied which ultimately leads to IT teams being unable to effectively manage and secure this data.

Problems safeguarding customer data

Moving into the 2010s, the world began to hear about massive data breaches from organizations across various sectors, such as Equifax, Marriott and Yahoo. Data breaches like these result in serious damage to a businesses brand, reputation and the loyalty of their customer base as consumers lose faith in businesses being able to keep their information safe. In addition, data breaches cause a decline in market value, with an average fall of 5%. These consequences have severe, if not fatal, effects to a business’s bottom line. Data governance laws also began to go into effect during the 2010 decade, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) adding to the complexity needed for managing customer identities.

CIAM protecting customer data

The reality is, customer identity & access management (CIAM) began long before anyone had a name for it. In our next blog to this series, we will discuss where CIAM fits into current business practices and then look at the future of managing customer identities.

About the Author

Alexa Slinger

Alexa Slinger is a Product Marketing Manager for OneLogin and has five years of experience in Identity & Access Management, in both the government and private sector. Her educational background is in Business & IT Management, and prior to IAM she spent seven years in sales, marketing & training roles.

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