Identity and access management (IAM) has become a widely accepted practice for enterprise IT. However, as more consumers have their own accounts with companies, customer identity and access management (CIAM) has become its own set of best practices that differ from IAM in some ways.

What Is Enterprise Identity? 

Enterprise or workforce identity is a company’s digital identity. This identity is what’s typically associated with IAM, and it’s required to handle business processes, like financial transactions, employee management and customer relationship management.

These identities are created through an administrator-led process and rely on private information like a tax identification number. With this information, businesses can create unique usernames and passwords for accessing business services.

One of the biggest threats to enterprise identity is insider threats. Internal people can misuse the information they have access to for personal gain. These threats can occur with internal employees or third-party vendors and contractors.

What Is Customer Identity?

A customer or consumer identity is an individual identity used for personal reasons, like social media or shopping online. Consumers typically create these identities through self-registration with their personal info. Like an enterprise identity, consumer identities also have unique usernames and passwords for accessing content.

Customer identities don’t face insider threats like workforce identities do. However, these identities are subject to cybercrime, where hackers steal personal data.

Workforce Identity vs. Customer Identity 

There are similarities and differences between these identity types.


For enterprise and customer identities, basic security principles and access management are important. Regardless of the type of identity, implementing controls like multi-factor authentication and authorization practices helps to protect users. Lifecycle management and directory services are also valuable for improving the overall user experience and maintaining transparency in your system.

Availability is also a critical aspect of these identities. When access management isn’t functioning, users can’t complete the processes they want or need to. For businesses, this leads to drops in productivity. For customers, this leads to reduced quality in customer experience. 

Both consumer and enterprise identities can have a negative impact on your business if they are not properly secured. If consumer information is subject to cybercrime, your reputation often suffers. Threats to identity security can also lead to negative impacts on your reputation, even if your business is privately owned.


Enterprise identity is generally for security and efficiency, not revenue. Whereas businesses are motivated to protect consumer identities because it improves the customer experience and drives revenue. Another major difference lies in the ownership of data. In the case of enterprise identity, the organization as a whole owns the data for every user. Customers own the data for their identities, so companies often have to implement additional systems for compliance. 

User experience is another valuable difference between these two identity types. Enterprise identities have a minimum standard that employees will be trained on to align with. Consumers, however, will not accept services that require training. CIAM systems need strong UX that ensures usability.

Solutions for CIAM and IAM 

Optimal IdM offers a range of IAM and CIAM solutions to improve your security practices and user experiences. Our IAM services include solutions like:

  • Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS)
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Single sign-on and cloud federated identity

With a focus on scalability, our IAM services support security, speed, stability and cost savings. The OptimalCloud™ CIAM platform features a centralized database that links to other services and apps for a unified experience. Other features of our CIAM solution include:

  • Seamless access with single sign-on
  • MFA
  • An exclusive non-synchronizing virtual directory for real-time access to customer identity data

Get in Touch With Optimal IdM

Optimal IdM can help you integrate the right solutions for IAM and CIAM. Explore our services and get in touch with us today.


  • The database in which all of your organization’s sensitive identity data is stored.
  • A digital ledger in which digital transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly.
  • Securely managing customer identity and profile data, and controlling customer access to applications and services.
  • The means of linking a person's electronic identity and attributes, stored across multiple distinct identity management systems.
  • A legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the EU.
  • The policy-based centralized orchestration of user identity management and access control.
  • An authentication infrastructure that is built, hosted and managed by a third-party service provider.
  • A security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user's identity for a login or other transaction.
  • A global provider of innovative and affordable identity access management solutions. 
  • Managing and auditing account and data access by privileged users.
  • Tools and technologies for controlling user access to critical information within an organization.
  • An authentication process that allows a user to access multiple applications with one set of login credentials.

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