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Harness Identity Management to Thrive in the Age of the Customer
Tips for giving customers exactly what they pay for.
Posted Aug 28, 2014
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What we've commonly been calling The Age of the Customer is really the Age of the Internet: Customers have learned that they don't need to "settle"; instead they can seek—and probably find—exactly what they're looking for online. This unprecedented competitive pressure is driving the pace of business innovation faster than ever. Companies are racing to develop new revenue streams and increase loyalty by rolling out more personalized and dynamic services. Car companies are adding telemetrics features; banks are scrambling over each other to offer the latest mobile banking service; and retailers and service providers are dreaming up new services and perks to shore up loyalty. Even organizations that aren't eyeing the top line are innovating: Governments, for example, are turning to new channels to offer convenience and cut bottom-line administrative costs.

But one huge hurdle in this headlong race to innovate is connecting customer identities to these offerings. It's a paradox of openness and restriction: Companies need to provide easy, seamless access across customer devices and platforms and services including the cloud, the Internet of Things, mobile devices, customer portals, social platforms, and the Web. At the same time, they must protect customer security and ensure that customers get exactly—and only—what they pay for.

Aim for a relationship, not just access

"The industry is undergoing a huge shift from identity access management to identity relationship management," says Alex Ott, owner and founder of CrossContinentalVentures, a global provider of advisory services to entrepreneurs. "Identity relationship management extends the value of identity where legacy vendors have failed to innovate, supporting organizations in developing seamless and secure customer-focused services across users, applications, devices, and things."

Traditional identity access management (IAM) tools enable or deny access, based on a few criteria, and only for a few thousand users, typically just employees and partners. Companies looking to support innovative services for customers can leverage identity relationship management (IRM) platforms instead. These can instantly support multiple devices, react to context, and scale up to millions of users without any performance issues.

Support all devices with anytime, anywhere sign-in

Companies support a huge array of devices, applications, users, and the numerous relationships between them, all while providing customers with the same experience across all of their touch points. Today's IRM platforms can link devices—laptops, phones, tablets, even cars—and new mobile and social apps to a single security platform that enables identity synchronization and single sign-on (SSO) anytime, everywhere, on-premises or off in the cloud.

Deliver context-aware services

But today's SSO isn't a simple yes or no solution. Multiple factors should determine whether a user gets access, and if so, how 

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