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Vendor Spotlight: How UnboundID is Focusing on Consumer Identity Management to Turn Security ‘Grudge Spending’ into Revenue-Generation


If you’ve been following our site or InfoSec news in general, then you’re probably aware of the recent groundswell of interest in Consumer Identity and Access Management (CIAM).

The IT cognoscenti are touting CIAM as an essential, make-or-break ingredient for consumer-facing businesses, especially important for e-retailers and media companies. But many decision-makers in those companies are now beginning to recognize that Identity and Access Management is no longer just an operating expense, according to a new report from Garrett Bekker, a Senior Analyst at 451 Research.

For far too long, security has been seen by many enterprise executives as a ‘grudge spend’ – a necessary evil that is often the last thing a CFO or CEO wants to spend their scarce budget dollars on. Traditional identity and access management was grouped in this category. Despite pending data sovereignty legislation and growing concerns over data breaches, many decision makers have seen IAM only as an extra line item in their budget expense column. However, Austin, Texas-based UnboundID may have found a way to change this fact, Bekker explains in his new report “UnboundID sharpens focus on untapped opportunities in customer identity management.”

Who is UnboundID?

UnboundID was founded in 2008 by a group of former Sun Microsystems employees– CEO Steve Shoaff, Chief Architect David Ely and Principal Engineer Neil Wilson – who were working on the OpenDS open source directory project prior to Oracle’s acquisition of Sun in 2009. They took an early focus on providing directory services for enterprise customers with high requirements for scalability. “Think telcos, internet retailers, and financial institutions,” writes Bekker. In some ways, that makes UnboundID the progenitor of the current CIAM market.

In recent years, UnboundID has pursued a “natural progression” into managing customer profiles for many of its clients, and has now made a full-on push into the CIAM space, which Bekker claims is “potentially orders of magnitude larger (and growing faster) than traditional IAM.”

So far, UnboundID’s growth seems to support Bekker’s assessment. The company has been picking up banner accounts such as Uber, Citi, and Intuit, and claims several seven-figure deals in the past year. According to Bekker’s report, external-facing use cases now account for more than 70% of UnboundID’s overall revenue.

So what’s driving all of that growth?

CIAM As Revenue Generator

It all comes back to the question of grudge spending. CFOs don’t like spending on security because it doesn’t make money for the business. So how do you get around that? If you’re UnboundID, you look for ways in which identity data can enable revenue generation.

With its CIAM solutions, UnboundID is providing a platform that not only allows enterprises and service providers to secure their customer data, it allows them to monetize it. As such, UnboundID “might be one of the few security vendors that enterprises actually like to see arrive,” says Bekker.

“With its new focus on what it refers to as a ‘next-generation identity and preference management platform,’ UnboundID occupies a market sweet spot that sits at the nexus of some compelling and potentially disruptive trends: security, digital marketing, and data sovereignty.”

Unlike managing employee data, says Bekker, customer data presents “a treasure trove” of value that companies can tap into for personalization, customer engagement, and other purposes. The UnboundID platform consists of five separate modules. Data Store provides a high-speed, limitless-scale repository for storing both structured and unstructured identity data. Data Broker offers preference and privacy management functions while Data Sync connects and merges data in real-time. Authentication Server delivers social login and Single Sign-On capabilities, and Analytics Engine provides insight into operational performance and customer behaviors.

“By collecting, storing, managing, and governing access to that data in a secure way, UnboundID has the opportunity to not only help firms mitigate risk, but also to drive potential new revenue streams,” says Bekker.

The challenge, Bekker writes, is to “do so in a way that doesn’t violate consumer privacy, and with a seamless user experience that provides transparency into the way that data is utilized.”

You can check out 451 Research’s full analysis of UnboundID, which includes overviews for UnboundID’s products, strategy, and competition, as well as a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis here.

You May also be interested in: 

Forrester CIAM Market Overview 180Forrester’s Market Overview for Consumer Identity and Access Management

Learn how CIAM:
-Is an essential ingredient for digital customer experience
-Balances customer experience with security
-Provides a unified view of the customer
-Offers answers to customers’ privacy concerns
-Delivers preference management that allows customers to controls their profile
-Provides added protection for high-risk transactions


GartnerlogoGartner Defines the Power of Consumer Identity and Access Management

Gartner analyst Lori Robinson explains how:
-Consumer IAM differs from Employee IAM
-CIAM unlocks the revenue-generating power of consumer data
-CIAM creates a single customer profile across all channels
-CIAM supports progressive identity development throughout the customer journey


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