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How to choose the best CIAM platform for your brand

By Jamie Beckland | Posted on October 05, 2016

How to Choose Best CIAM for your Brand

As digital technologies continue to shape consumer expectations and behavior, only a quarter of executives think their firms have an appropriate digital business strategy in place to respond, according to Forrester.

Understanding customer identities and behaviors can help brands connect to consumers on a more personal level. A Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) platform helps businesses create personalized experiences, gain loyal customers and drive deeper customer engagement.

With many vendors offering CIAM, how do you choose the right one? Your CIAM platform should provide your brand with a single, unified view of your customers while meeting the following criteria:


  • Maintain security compliance

With all that’s at stake with customer data, your CIAM platform has to get security right the first time by addressing compliance needs, such as;

  • Redundant practices to protect data in motion and at rest
  • Storing and managing access to customer data
  • Enforcing multifactor and step-up authentication for high-risk transactions

Then there’s the matter of security and compliance standards for each geography and industry in which you market. You’re looking for a solution that passes third-party security certifications regularly, such as SOC 2, HIPAA and ISO.

  • Preserve your customers’ privacy

In looking to preserve your customers’ privacy, it’s important to ask two questions:

Does the CIAM platform support your compliance with local privacy laws?

In each country where your brand operates, you have to comply with local privacy laws. Your CIAM should allow for nation- or region- specific control over the way customer data is stored and managed.

Is it flexible enough to allow you to align with third-party privacy policies?

If you want to integrate with partner databases, your CIAM vendor should ensure that its data is used in accordance with the respective privacy policies. A good CIAM solution will keep track of the rights and encumbrances attached to each data element, whether it came from a customer or a third party.

  • Control access to granular customer data

Not every employee, partner and vendor should have equal access to your customer data. Your CIAM solution must provide granular control over who can access your customer data. Scoped access helps dictate which marketers, partners, ad networks, technologies and administrators get access to which data elements.

Your brand has different usage rights to different data assets. If you have permission to use a customer’s data in an email campaign, your CIAM solution should be able to sync that data over to your email service provider. If you don’t have that permission, it won’t be synced over.

  • Scale to meet business needs

When there is an uptick of online activity, your CIAM solution can’t fumble. Every one of your customers should be logged in as smoothly as if they were the one customer that matters most to the brand. Your CIAM infrastructure should be designed to handle a burst of users. That scalability during high-demand periods makes a big difference to your customers’ experiences.

Productized Integrations

CIAM is the most valuable when it enhances all of the touchpoints that you already have in the customer journey. Consider using an independent CIAM solution that isn’t tied to a suite of marketing products. Identity and access management should exist outside of an all-in-one marketing technology cloud, as rapid change in the landscape does not allow anyone to truly consolidate on one cloud vendor.


While productized integrations allow for a quicker path to value, it’s all about the APIs when you want deeper customization.

All serious CIAM solutions offer APIs, but you want flexibility baked into your CIAM solution so it can accommodate changes in customer behavior and technologies available in the market. Your CIAM solution should be founded on a layer of RESTful APIs that provide functionality, such as real-time alerts and profile changes.


  • Ease the data-collection and aggregation process

A good CIAM solution will have a way to keep data organized and accessible, bringing in the importance of schemas. Everything relies on good governance of a flexible schema. It helps you easily accommodate new use cases for your data, such as:

  • Where did the data come from?
  • Where should they sync to?
  • Who should have rights and access to it? To what extent?

Without data access control, you can’t manage data governance at all.

Choosing the right CIAM solution for your business will make a meaningful contribution to developing the appropriate digital strategy for your brand. CIAM impacts a spectrum of business processes and forward-thinking IT professionals can help drive real digital transformation at their enterprises by putting a CIAM solution in place. You can learn more about the differences between CIAM and IAM in our white paper, and to learn more about how Janrain can help your business drive digital transformation, you can contact us here.

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About the author

Jamie Beckland

Jamie Beckland

VP of Product

Jamie has been delivering custom web solutions for more than 10 years, and built his first social media community in 2004. Prior to Janrain, Jamie led the emerging media practice at White Horse, and has worked as a marketer and technologist with clients including Coca-Cola, Financial Times, Samsung, Wells Fargo, L’Occitane, The Brooking Institution, and many others. He frequently speaks about technology trends and writes for Mashable, Social Media Examiner, iMediaConnection, AdAge, and other publications.

View all posts by Jamie Beckland