stock-photo-16919804-video-concept-icon.jpgDigital business is rapidly changing identity management. In the past, organizations only had to focus on managing workforce identities. Today this scope has expanded to managing millions of customer identities in support of new mobile apps and digital services—and the requirements are entirely different. From extreme scale fluctuations (like holiday sales spikes) to complex data security and privacy policies, customer identity management demands more capabilities.

It can be tempting to opt for a homegrown solution when evaluating customer data management solutions. A do-it-yourself identity management solution built with a NoSQL database is attractive. These big data systems can be simple to deploy and they are often cheap, or even free. Developers, in particular, are drawn to them because NoSQL is schema-less, it’s easy to write apps in this environment, and these databases can be deployed in the cloud. Plus, they offer infinite scalability. What’s not to love?

But analysts, such as Forrester, say don’t do it, and for good reasons. There are many important functions that NoSQL databases can’t conduct effectively, such as searches and fine-grained access control. These limitations can dramatically impair customer identity management initiatives.

The typical response is to add on capabilities. An example would be adding a search layer, but now your apps have to talk to different data stores. To avoid this, you add an API layer. Then another challenge arises. How do you handle your legacy apps?

And this is just for the data access functionality. It’s the tip of the iceberg. Customer identity management has many other requirements including password management, data consistency, security, change synchronization and auditing, to name just a few.

A DIY solution quickly grows unwieldy as you try to bolt on these additional functions. Your easy project is now a mess that requires ongoing attention just to maintain. Another downside to this approach is missed opportunities to accelerate digital business growth because you lack advanced customer identity management features. Instead of being able to focus on your core competencies, you and your developers are wasting time and energy managing an inefficient solution. Perhaps the most painful aspect of this scenario is that it is unnecessary. There are purpose-built solutions available that can efficiently address customer identity management today and provide capabilities for future growth.