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Customer Identity Management: Powering the Reverse of the Web

By Janrain Team | Posted on November 03, 2015

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Dries Buytaert speaking at the Acquia Engage opening session.

I recently attended Acquia Engage in Boston, MA. Acquia is a longtime partner of Janrain and we have many joint customers, making this an exciting event. During the opening session, Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal, co-founder and CTO of Acquia, presented on “The Reverse of the Web” which he wrote about in March here. Dries describes it as a shift from a “pull-based” web to a “push-based” web, meaning content, products, and experiences will be streamed or pushed to us. We’re getting close with services like’s subscription service, Amazon Dash, or the Facebook feed, but we’re not quite there. I like to use the practical example like when I’m about to run out of laundry detergent I receive more just in time without making an explicit order on an app or website. Imagine a sensor in your washing machine that calculates how much laundry detergent you’ve used combined with Amazon knowing when you received your last order and your brand preference. Whole Foods is a great example of a company that is moving toward a push-based experience with their app building you a shopping list based on your meal plan or recipe selection. They’re already collecting food preferences and base recommendations on that personal data. The information, products or services are delivered to you as needed based on your preferences, context and personal data. You should definitely check out Dries full presentation for a greater understanding of his ideas and thinking on this subject.

I should also mention that push technology is nothing new (See SMTP and IMAP IDLE command). What makes the shift from pull to push so transformative today is how preferences are determined, gathered, and leveraged.

To power this “Reverse of the Web,” you will need the obvious platforms like a highly flexible CMS, a personalization platform, an email marketing system, possibly a CRM system, and, of course, all the fulfilment systems among many others. However, at the core of any “Digital Transformation” or “Reverse of the Web” will be a Customer Identity Management solution. Without this core functionality, where will Amazon ship my laundry detergent? How will Whole Foods know what foods I avoid? What is my favorite brand? What are the relevant offers that I will respond to? Having a Customer Identity management solution to connect all of this personal data is the first step. The second step is for that system to be loosely coupled, centralized, and completely portable. Drupal is a good CMS but so is WordPress, Sitecore, and Adobe AEM. The problem with using a particular CMS for Customer Identity Management is that it’s not easily connected to the CMS your APAC team uses, or the HTML5 site your LATAM team built from scratch, or any other system (many of which you may not yet realize you need) that will depend on that Customer Profile information. Even if you standardized on Adobe AEM, WordPress, or Drupal today and that covered 80% of your Customer Identity needs, what will you do when you have to switch five years from now?

Your customers expect an experience that can only be achieved with a loosely coupled, centralized, and agile Customer Identity platform. Janrain provides CMS integration for platforms like Drupal and WordPress with APIs to collect the data that enable personalization and eventually the push experience your customers expect.

Janrain provides multiple CMS integrations not because it seemed like a good idea (which it is) but because our customers asked for this functionality. From the single site customers to the massive global brands that have deployed Janrain on thousands of digital touch points across the globe, they all strive to follow core development principles and have a central Identity Management platform; build digital experiences that are all about the user, modular, highly cohesive and easily connected to all your systems. We have many customers that have fully integrated the Janrain Customer Identity Management platform in all of their digital properties, and we would love to share those examples with you. Contact us to find out more.

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