By Daniel Raskin, VP of Strategy at ForgeRock

According to Ashu Garg, general partner of venture capital firm Foundation Capital, “Technology today is both friend and foe for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). The shift from art to science requires CMOs to reinvent themselves and their organisations or become irrelevant. The CMO of tomorrow is the data nerd of today.”

In his report “MarTech and the Decade of the CMO,” Garg suggests that the role of the chief marketing officer has changed. Historically, whether it was through traditional or digital avenues, CMOs hired an agency, launched a campaign, and repeated the process ad infinitum. However, as consumers have become savvy about, desensitised to, and even jaded about those marketing approaches of yore, CMOs are rethinking their now antiquated marketing strategies.

Rather than using broad-swath marketing to hit as many people as possible, CMOs today are tasked with cultivating unique relationships with each individual customer. CMOs need to think beyond bringing in sales leads; they need to start thinking about how to close the deal. As they realise the advantages of direct customer engagement, they are increasingly saying good-bye to traditional agencies and exploring a variety of new customer-focused identity-management software tools.

These tools are designed for customers—built for flexibility, scale, and the Internet of Things (IoT). They are able to interact with healthcare wearables, connected cars, set-top boxes, and whatever yet-to-be-invented thing customers will be using in the years ahead. Earl Perkins, research vice president at Gartner refers to this as the Identity of Things (IDoT).

Identity as a Customer Engagement Platform

Identity is a fundamental component of any organisation’s growth, and CMOs cannot take advantage of a myriad of new technologies – such as mobility, the cloud, or the IoT − if they do not have a scalable and repeatable identity strategy.

Traditional identity vendors are still having one-dimensional conversations focused on yesterday’s challenge - internal users such as employees. These users still need protection, but the real opportunity for CMOs involves leveraging identity to develop close, unique relationships with individual customers and gain insight into their needs. These relationships give businesses a competitive edge and bring them to new levels in the market. Underpinned by a robust identity strategy, enterprises and other businesses now have unique opportunities to invest in technologies that will help them better serve their customers with secure and efficient online resources, leading to sales growth, better customer satisfaction, and increased ROI.

Creating a single view of the customer

Essentially, customer identity management platforms use identity to create a single, persistent view of customers, bridging all business department silos. These platforms use data to build profiles that help CMOs engage with their customers more effectively and efficiently. Achieving a granular understanding of who customers are and what specifically they need enables CMOs to provide more efficient, more secure, and more relevant services and products.

All of this makes for more satisfied customers and provides opportunities to expand sales, while also ensuring that customer data remains secure and protected from unauthorised users.

Accelerating Time to Market

Today, customer identity management platforms must cater to the high demands of consumers. Historically, businesses have relied on traditional identity and access management (IAM) systems, often cobbled together from disparate technologies. This made for unwieldy “product suites” that were overly complex and replete with numerous redundancies and compatibility issues. Niche IAM players created streamlined solutions to address specific business-related problems, but without any overarching identity solution, CMOs had no way to achieve any real ROI by leveraging them.

IDoT requires a unified identity model. Its core tenet is that identity should be exposed in a single, repeatable way that makes it easy to roll out new products and services to any application, device or thing, thus accelerating time to market and achieving a desired advantage over competitors. The goal of this tenet is to provide new services quickly, taking development time down from years to weeks.

Ensuring the Security of Customer Data

Customer identity management platforms also help solve online security issues. Using real-time contextual clues in addition to credentials helps organisations vet users to determine whether to give access, and how much. For example, when a system detects a login attempt with correct credentials, but from an unrecognised IP address or at an atypical time of day, the software triggers additional security precautions such as asking security questions or texting verification codes to a user’s mobile phone.

By bolstering the security of customer data and raising the level of access, CMOs can bolster brand reputation, predict values of potential sales leads, take real-time action based on relevant data, and manage individual customer relationships. Simultaneously, CMOs are also providing customers with peace of mind because their data is protected from malicious insiders or other nefarious users.