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Understanding Azure B2C: A Comprehensive Overview for Businesses

  • Thought Leadership
  • Education

What is Azure B2C? 

 Azure B2C is an enterprise identity service that forms part of the Microsoft Entra family, designed specifically for business-to-customer applications. It focuses on customer-facing integration, allowing users to access multiple environments within the same system using a single sign-on. This feature streamlines the user experience across various platforms, such as mobile apps or shopping carts, by eliminating the demand for multiple logins and thereby creating a more seamless navigation experience. 

Why Use Azure B2C? 

The use of Azure B2C brings several advantages. Firstly, it simplifies password management by integrating with external identity providers like Google for passwordless authentication. This not only enhances security but also reduces the complexity associated with managing passwords. In addition, Azure B2C can capture essential user information and can be customised to collect further attributes, allowing businesses to tailor their services based on detailed user behaviour analysis.  

Moreover, its pricing model based on monthly active users, with the first 50,000 free, makes it an economically viable option for many businesses, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises. It’s also an optimal choice for businesses already within the Microsoft ecosystem, providing necessary infrastructure and security customisation options without the need to build these from scratch. 

How to Implement Azure B2C 

Implementing Azure B2C involves creating a tenant in the B2C portal. The process is designed to be straightforward, with predefined policy configurations available for basic user flows, enabling any business user to quickly start using the system.  

User flows in Azure B2C can range from simple processes, like logging in to access a shopping cart, to more complex journeys involving multiple steps and interactions with different systems. The platform’s flexibility allows businesses to design user experiences that meet their specific requirements. 

For more complex workflows or when connecting to multiple different systems, custom policies are required. These policies cater to unique needs, such as connecting to various systems or incorporating specific user attributes like driver’s license details or student IDs. This may call for a more experienced development team to effectively implement and manage these customisations.  

Our Experience with Higher Education Universities 

Our experience with implementing Azure B2C at universities highlighted the importance of balancing complexity with user experience. Complex user journeys, while potentially offering comprehensive functionalities, can lead to higher chances of errors and a negative user experience. This was evident when initial implementations led to login difficulties, necessitating multiple attempts with different email addresses, thereby stressing the need for simplicity and efficiency in the user journey. 

Do’s and Don’ts 

When using Azure B2C, it’s important to focus on creating a smooth user experience. This includes logging errors as warnings instead of completely halting the process, which helps maintain continuity in the user journey even when issues arise. Businesses should avoid overly complex processes that might lead to security vulnerabilities or user frustration. Additionally, sensitive data should be handled with care, and its storage within Azure B2C should be avoided to ensure security and compliance.  

Azure B2C is a powerful tool for enhancing customer identity and access management. Its integration with the Microsoft ecosystem, combined with flexible pricing and customisation options, makes it an appealing choice for businesses looking to streamline their customer interactions while maintaining high security and efficiency standards. 

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