It’s a common misconception that traditional Identity and Access management (IAM) solutions, which were built to support internal workforces, can be repurposed to serve customers. However, considering the important role that security and customer experience have assumed in every business, the need for a purpose-built Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) service has become a strategic imperative. 

In this article, we discuss the differences between IAM and CIAM solutions and why your business needs a dedicated CIAM service. 

IAM vs. CIAM

Before we dive into the differences, here’s a quick definition of each service.  While both IAM and CIAM services are focused on managing identities, the end user intended for each are distinctly different.

Identity and Access Management (IAM): IAM is built for internal employee identities to ensure corporate security, employee productivity, cost-efficiencies and streamline access to work applications.

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM): CIAM is built for external customer identities to deliver a simpler way to access their accounts, prevent account lockouts, reduce attacks such as account takeovers (ATO), and to give businesses more control over the customer login experience.

Traditional IAM wasn’t built for customer experience

An IAM solution won’t properly serve your customers as it was not built with customer experience in mind but rather security. With the growing demand for effortless identity experiences, customer-focused authentication services need to be specifically designed to provide a balance between customer experience and security. 

Today, customers demand easy and quick passwordless login experiences. If they are met with layers of friction that make them jump through hoops to access their own accounts — they will abandon the transaction altogether. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Transmit Security it was found that 58.2% of customers will drop off if the registration process is too complex. That causes high customer churn rates and loss of business. 

IAM vs. CIAM continued

The user experience is just one of the crucial differences between IAM and CIAM solutions. Among the list of other stand-out factors that separate the two solutions include scalability and flexible integrations. To learn more about the full list of differences, read our IAM vs. CIAM: Why You Need a Purpose-Built CIAM Solution for Your Customers.

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