Miguel Henriques


Business Development Manager - Xpand IT

The five features of CIAM (Customer Identity and Access Management)

  • The management of identities and internal access is known as IAM – Identity and Access Management.
  • The objective is to protect an organization’s systems and data.
  • The solutions for external access to the organisation are called CIAM – Customer Identity and Access Management.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is well-known and practised by most companies. The goal is to protect systems and data by controlling who accesses what and via authentication methods, defining profiles and respective permissions and creating various levels of security depending on the sensitivity of the data or operations.

These solutions are often oriented inwards, in other words, for internal access. Still, in today’s digital world, external access to systems and data by clients, partners and even other systems has become increasingly relevant to businesses.

It is therefore essential to distinguish these two strands of IAM because despite sharing the basic principles of authentication and identity, they pose different challenges with different objectives and, ultimately, different solutions.

IAM or workforce identity

Typical IAM solutions, usually called workforce identity, deal with employee access or internal systems. The big goal of workforce identity is internal operational efficiency, and the users are the employees themselves, who, despite needing solutions to facilitate their daily work, understand and comply with the organisation’s security policies.

CIAM: Customer Identity and Access Management

Solutions for external access to the organisation all under CIAM – Customer Identity and Access Management.

In this case, users are usually customers or potential customers, and therefore the main goal of these solutions is to deliver the best possible user experience without jeopardising data security or operations.

Before moving on, it is important to analyse the conclusions of some studies on these two topics:

These trends have already been taken on board by business leaders, and after the pandemic exponentiated the digital-first trend, a fierce competition is taking place to deliver the best user experience safely and securely, where even the smallest details make the difference.

What are the main features of a CIAM solution?

  • Scalability – The number of users of a CIAM solution is difficult to predict (unlike typical IAM solutions) and can suffer access peaks and vary exponentially with business growth or the creation of new products or services. A solution that allows fast scalability and can respond to any situation without any friction for users is a must. It is therefore advisable that such solutions are hosted in a cloud environment with high availability.
  • Integration – CIAM solutions work with consumer data from multiple sources, creating the so-called “Unified Customer Profile” and allowing applications accessed to use the same data to deliver a consistent multi-channel experience for each consumer. This consumer information is critical to the business; therefore, CIAM must allow integration with other types of solutions such as CRM, CMS, CDP, etc. These integrations are usually performed through an API Gateway configured in the CIAM solution.
  • Adaptive Authentication – Authentication is one of the most discussed topics under CIAM solutions, as consumers demand convenience and ease of access. The various trends are Single Sign-On, entities such as Facebook or Google, and passwordless authentication using biometric data, email magic links or OTP (One-Time Passcodes). Beyond convenience, certain operations or data require increased levels of security, and in such cases, MFA (multi-factor authentication) system is implemented. CIAM solutions also allow the authentication mechanism to be adapted to user preferences and behaviour, detecting possible fraud and triggering an additional level of security.
  • Data analysis – The data collected by CIAM solutions is very important for companies to make informed decisions. This is why it is so important that CIAM solutions facilitate data analysis and the creation of dashboards for easy visualisation. It is then possible to segment customers by their behaviour and attributes, analyse the number of active customers and their growth, their use of each application, and use this type of data for marketing and sales campaigns or to inform the creation of new services.
  • Security and Privacy – In addition to managing security levels in authentication mechanisms, these solutions enable data encryption, creating alerts for risky activities, recording activities of users and solution administrators, and even the definition of information download limits. When it comes to privacy, there are different regulations in force today, such as GDPR or CCPA, that organisations must comply with. CIAM solutions allow each user to accept the privacy policy of the organisation or to choose the privacy options given by it. This way, the organisation will use data according to individual preferences in all its applications consistently, fulfilling its duty to regulations and gaining the trust of its users.

Final Thoughts

Businesses survive and grow based on customer satisfaction because customers nowadays have a wide choice of vendors to meet their needs. Even in the case of out-of-the-box products or services; if the consumer experience is not as expected, the prosperity of the business will be put in jeopardy.

On the one hand, convenience, speed, and consistency are pillars of a great user experience, while on the other hand, security and data privacy are pillars of that trust that every brand wants to establish in the market.

A well-implemented Customer Identity and Access Management solution ensures this last important attribute and enables healthy business growth through the retention and acquisition of satisfied customers.

Miguel HenriquesThe five features of CIAM (Customer Identity and Access Management)
read more

Web Components and why you should be using them

  • Web components are a set of technologies that allow the creation of customisable elements, encapsulated outside the application, which can be reused in any JavaScript library or framework that works with HTML.
  • The three most used technologies are Custom Elements; Shadow DOM; HTML Templates; ES Modules.
  • Some advantages of using Web Components: Reuse; Encapsulation; Productivity.

The market has shown a great imbalance between demand and supply of competencies in application development, resulting in increased project costs and often hindering companies from investing in the digital transition. With the growing need for a presence on digital channels and to provide a good user experience, front-end development has been one of the most in-demand skills in the technology market.

There are several solutions to this challenge, the most obvious being to train staff and increase supply. This is also the solution that requires the most time and will not always be the most immediate response to today’s challenge, but often something we choose to relegate to the future.

Another solution is low-code/no-code platforms, which enable the development of applications in a simpler way but are limited to the existing functionalities, making them rigid and restrictive where the use case is rather complex.

Lastly, we have the evolution of what is traditional bespoke development.

It was back in 1995 that HTML2 transformed the Web by allowing users to interact with websites. What happened next is well known, the explosion of the Internet and the transition from “digital newspaper” websites to complex applications capable of offering an excellent user experience and defining the companies’ position in the market.

New frameworks, new methods and new trends are constantly emerging to help ease and improve application development. One of these trends is the use of web components.

Web Components are a set of technologies that allow the creation of customisable elements, encapsulated outside the application, which can be reused in any JavaScript library or framework that works with HTML. These elements can be widgets, buttons or any kind of function and UI that makes sense to reuse.

Among the various technologies that define web components, we highlight the four most widely used, which can be developed individually or together:

Custom Elements:

A set of JavaScript APIs that allows the creation of new elements or tags for HTML pages, along with their respective functions, laying the foundation for the design and use of new DOM components.

Shadow DOM:

Technology/strategy used to isolate CSS and JavaScript in an element, rendered separately from the DOM of the main document, preventing its behaviour and style from conflicting with the main code.

HTML templates:

Templates are used to create dynamic components. They start off invisible, and are not processed when the page loads, but when they are instantiated by a JavaScript function.

ES Modules:

This system of modules allows the inclusion and re-use of JavaScript documentation in a standardised, modular, efficient manner.

What are the advantages of using web components?

? Reuse: By reusing the same component, not only within but also outside the project, you simplify the structure of the application and speed up its development.

? Encapsulation: The fact that the element is encapsulated makes it independent from the rest of the application code, thus avoiding possible conflicts. This way, the code becomes simpler, better organised and modular.

? Productivity: The result of the previous features is clearly an increase in productivity. In today’s competitive markets, reducing developer effort in both ongoing and future projects is essential.

Final Thoughts

If your organisation aims to have a strong digital presence with tailored solutions, the use of web components will be a key factor in the productivity of your projects and the consistency of the user experience you offer.

You can see this technology as the ability to create a library of components designed according to the identity and brand of every company.

As technology consultants and with application development being one of Xpand IT’s focus areas, we always aim to stay up to date with the best market practices, incorporating them into our projects. This is how we provide better value to our customers and partners, both now and in the future. If you are interested in this area, please contact us!

Miguel HenriquesWeb Components and why you should be using them
read more

Custom Development: 3 use cases that prove it is still important

  • The proof Custom Development is precious for some companies;
  • Custom made digital solutions can work as a competitive advantage and can make your company stand out from the competition;
  • Use Cases: Customer Care Portal; Software/Product Customisation; B2C Service Platforms.

Nowadays the digital world works as the entrance door to many organisations. This is where they make themselves known, communicate with their target audience and strengthen relationships with their customers. The experience they offer in the execution of their services is directly linked to the strength of their brand, which is why we are seeing increasing investment in digital applications, whether web or mobile.

This requires not just competence, but also simplicity, speed and originality.

Today we can see a large supply of off-the-shelf software, developed by manufacturers to accommodate the high demand in this area, and even though they are increasingly customisable through low-code or no-code development, the need for customised development keeps growing. Why is this?

There will always be specific needs that require the development of a unique application, distinct from the competition and owned by the company. These may be specific business requirements, integrations or the UX/UI of the applications themselves, which design the perfect experience based on business objectives.

Considering the growing demand for these solutions and our own experience in projects in this area, we would like to talk about three cases where custom development can make all the difference to get the best possible solution for your business.

1) Customer Care Portal

A company that provides digital services needs a platform where customers can make use of the various tools available in a centralised way.

One of the main challenges in developing a digital product like this is the integration of the platform with different sources of information, via databases, APIs, legacy applications and more. The platform must be hosted in the cloud, in order to be fast and offer high availability. This way, the customer experience is fast and smooth, which is an important factor in customer loyalty.

2) Software/Product Customisation

There are many analytics software solutions on the market that have proven themselves to be essential for companies to effectively extract value from data, however, they do not always fully meet these companies’ requirements.

In this case, every user has different needs when extracting reports and it is crucial that he or she can manage the extraction schedule and its data sources individually and autonomously (regardless of format), which can then be shared with other users in the organisation.

Usually, an off-the-shelf solution would only allow these configurations at a global level, so customisation will always be required to meet the organisation’s needs. Wherever possible, much of the development should be performed on a component external to the application, ensuring minimal impact on future software upgrades.

3) B2C Service Platform – Financial Sector

Like many others, the financial sector has specific characteristics that make its customer service platforms unique. A home banking or consumer credit application has different characteristics in every company, whether in its processes, the existing back-end systems in the different departments, the external entities involved, and of course, the ideal user experience. These platforms must be custom developed to meet a complexity of requirements that solutions sold in the market do not allow.

Final Thoughts

In such a competitive market and with such demanding customers, investment in digital platforms is central to success for many companies. It is true that the investment in digital solutions is the new gateway to customers, but the lack of it can easily become the exit door.

We invite you to explore our success cases, which have already served as an inspiration to many companies, and to share your challenges with us. We will share our experience in return!

Miguel HenriquesCustom Development: 3 use cases that prove it is still important
read more