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Why you haven't been able to set up an omnichannel customer experience

January 23, 2020
3 min
 Omnichannel experience

What does it take to get different systems to talk to each other, and how do you manage data smoothly, securely, and correctly? An analysis by Sorayah Banomyong, Chief Marketing Officer at ReachFive.


Over the past 20 years, marketing has racked up successive layers of technology with a string of acronyms, like CRM, DMP, CDP, MDM, and TMS. Such platforms have guided us from Big Data to Trusted Data, from customer behavioral analysis to customer experience. But many got lost along the way. To blame, a clunky, mismatched UX and failed attempts to roll out omnichannel experiences. So, what does it take to get different systems to talk to each other, and how do you manage data smoothly, securely, and correctly?

Identity resolution at the heart of effective marketing

Over-the-top letters, coupons, points of sale, websites, emails, social media, and TV... Never have marketing specialists had so many channels at their disposal for reaching consumers and collecting data about their purchasing behavior. Is the Holy Grail of one-to-one marketing within our reach? In theory, yes. But in reality, it's much more complicated. So much information is collected, but we use numerous CRM, DMP, CDP, and other systems and technologies to manage them. They are also only loosely interconnected, often making it difficult to get and use helpful data.

CIAM (or Customer Identity and Access Management) is a new technology that offers the possibility of solving this customer identification problem. It provides a common thread by which we can reconnect all these technologies, each capable of managing their own "customer" issues. By compiling data from customer user profiles across all channels, CIAM solutions allow us to add the customer identity to each platform's specifications, thereby having a master key for all doors. By penetrating all these successive layers and by working with legacy IT systems, CIAM ultimately offers a 360° customer overview that has evaded companies before now. With this new technological component, it is now possible to say, "this is my customer" or "this is my prospect."

In a nutshell, CIAM solutions enhance and—to some extent—give life to data from dedicated platforms and systems. This is true of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), which aggregates data that is essentially offline, often passive, and fairly well archived, making it difficult to use.

Similarly, CIAM gives another dimension to a DMP (Data Management Platform), which is frequently used in programmatic advertising campaigns and has the disadvantage of using anonymized data from heterogeneous sources. Even more so because this gigantic database proves inefficient when performing advanced analyses involving data mining or machine learning. By aggregating social data with behavioral data from internet browsing and by using unstructured data from user profiles ("likes," semantic analysis, etc.), CIAM offers a more comprehensive and accurate view of users. 

Although it is designed to centralize and store all customer data, CDP (Customer Data Platform) lacks this essential advantage of managing customer identities. In a world where consumers move from device to device (mobile phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, etc.), it is important that messages intended for them can follow them wherever they go. CIAM reconciles all available data points, including those collected by first, second, and third parties.

CIAM: an answer to new security challenges in the customer relationship

The customer experience has evolved greatly and now needs to adopt a new approach for managing user data. New challenges have emerged with the GDPR, particularly involving security, the hidden part of the iceberg. According to a recent study by Gartner, such regulations are becoming more widespread. By 2022, more than half the world's population could see its data regulated on a regional or local level, under similar principles as in the European regulation.

Because customer data is at the crossroads of multiple data points, companies must be able to guarantee their consumers the same level of security at the point of sale, online, and on their mobile apps, as well as when using smart objects.

But with the technologies being used today, which often date back to a time of less complexity surrounding the customer relationship, it is difficult to effectively manage user data security, regulations, and the customer experience all at once. By learning from the different software layers that exist today (CRM, DMP, CDP, etc.), CIAM allows companies and brands to offer a global and relevant response to these new challenges.

Over the years, companies have equipped themselves with various martech solutions to address specific needs, each with its place in the ecosystem. Now, they finally have this missing link to interconnect their data systems and make them more intelligent. Today's top customer marketing specialists consider CIAM to be a decisive step that is not about to move aside for rival marketing solutions. It actually stands to replace a number of existing technologies.

CIAM is more than just a common thread for identification. It is also a solution capable of providing reliable data to help companies speed up their digital transformation. CIAM brings together the fragmented parts of a customer identity and has become the benchmark for ensuring customer knowledge and data.


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