Managing enterprise authentication with single sign-on: The seven key benefits

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

The advent of online shopping created an expectation of 24/7 corporate availability and interaction that the arrival of the smartphone only solidified. Anything is possible now, it seems, at any time of day and from any location. In this world of limitless options, organisations must be cloud-enabled and mobile-ready to remain competitive.

This is great for users but tricky for organisations to pull off. There is a user expectation of seamless access to multiple applications at all times. Because most large enterprises have dozens of touchpoints under multiple brands, their IT departments can become strained as they try to manage them all.

Managing access

To alleviate the strain, leaders must create access management strategies for their customers and their IT team. That’s where a Single Sign-On (SSO) strategy comes into play. SSO is a holistic, single-point approach to authentication and access. With SSO, users are allowed to access a suite of applications via one single login, irrespective of the platform, technology or domain used. 

It’s like a corporation that owns a mall. The mall is one large building, but it contains many separate businesses within it. Without SSO, a user would need a separate key to access each one of these businesses. However, with single sign-on, a user only needs one universal key from the building’s owner that fits all the different locks.

With SSO, the universal key is a single set of login credentials that grant access to all of these separate businesses – which, translated to the digital world, is multiple applications. SSO enable enterprise authentication, which simplifies sign-in and improves customer experience.

Enterprise SSO: Seven benefits

On average, Americans have 27 online accounts that require passwords. Yet in your role as an end-user, you probably don’t want to memorise unique credentials for all those accounts, right? You’re not alone; two-thirds of people with online accounts use no more than two different passwords. So, either the password is unsafe or the user is constantly forgetting their passwords and calling the IT team or customer service – costing companies time, money and tech resources.

SSO offers a better option in these seven ways:

SSO alleviates password fatigue

Cybersecurity professionals recommend creating a distinct, separate password for every single application. This means that the average user must remember dozens of passwords for personal and office use. Unfortunately, this often leads to “password fatigue.” (And, as the statistics above show, they are unlikely to do this, anyway.)

So, if customers have a hard time signing in, they’ll leave your site or app before you can convert them. And that hurts business. In fact, a recent usability study by Baymard Institute tested existing account users at two e-commerce sites (Amazon and ASOS) and found that 18.75% of users abandon their carts due to forgotten passwords or password reset issues.

SSO alleviates password fatigue because customers have just one password to remember, for all of your applications.

It raises software adoption rates

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not cause frustration. Have you ever given up on a new app because the customer access or sign-up process was a pain? If you have, that’s a “technology fail.” Making sign-up or login easier with SSO increases the chance that customers will adopt your technology, use your app and keep returning for more.

SSO increases IT and employee productivity

With single sign-on, you can: 

  • Lower the number of support calls: With just one password to remember to access all their apps, users won’t require assistance as often.
  • Eliminate risk: Employees can use their SSO login credentials on any device, in any web browser, without creating a security threat.
  • Make user experience better: Because users don’t need to switch between multiple login URLs or reset passwords, they save between 5 and 15 seconds per login. 

The increase in end-user productivity is one of the biggest benefits of single sign-on. 

It reduces the likelihood of password theft

Some people are under the impression that an SSO solution will weaken security. After all, if a master password is stolen, all related accounts will be compromised. In theory, this appears to be true, but with common-sense practices, SSO can actually reduce password theft.

How so? Users are more likely to create a stronger (harder to guess) password or passphrase if they only need to remember one. People can commit one 12-character password to memory, for instance, but they’re not even going to try to do so for multiple accounts or applications. Memorising and repeatedly using one password means not having to write it down somewhere for a bad actor to find. These best practices reduce the risk of password theft. 

You can combine it with risk-based authentication (RBA)

SSO can be combined with risk-based authentication (RBA). You and your security team can monitor user habits using RBA. This way, if you see any unusual user behavior, such as the wrong IP, or multiple login failures, you can demand extra identification verification. If the user fails at this, you can block their access. This powerful combination can prevent cybercriminals from stealing data, damaging your site or draining IT resources. 

SSO helps prevent shadow IT

Before the cloud came along, employees would buy their own software and install it on the sly – Shadow IT. But as cloud-based downloads become more popular, the potential for risk has grown. To solve this issue, IT admins can leverage SSO to monitor what apps employees use. Thus, identity theft risks can be thwarted. And, as an added bonus, with a single platform, a company’s IT or compliance team can ensure that global and local compliance rules are being followed.

User experience is streamlined

It’s hard to over-emphasise how valuable improved UX can be. As repeated logins are no longer required, customers can enjoy a modern digital experience. The benefits for enterprises include an increase in customer loyalty and higher conversion rates.

The right solution now

These days, end users expect more from their online interactions. They are used to 24/7 access, and organisations had better deliver or risk the business consequences. Single Sign-On is an enterprise authentication tool that offers multiple benefits to both the user and the organization: stronger security, better user experience, increased productivity and more. In an increasingly complex online environment, SSO is a tool whose time has come.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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