Deploying a single sign-on (SSO) registration solution gives end-users access to multiple web properties and applications from
any device or touchpoint with a single set of authentication credentials. Businesses employ SSO to reduce friction for users, unify disparate processes and data silos and ultimately to gain a 360-degree view of customers. Large companies that encompass multiple brands particularly benefit, since the right SSO strategy can dramatically improve security, performance and productivity, reduce costs and enable a superior customer experience. Here’s a brief look at how SSO helps companies be more competitive, from the bottom-line to the top.
Authentication: Conserve Resources and Tighten Security
Consumers are rejecting complex processes that constantly force them to create, remember, retrieve and reset “safe” passwords. Clunky approaches to authentication don’t do IT professionals any favors either, since supporting them means tying up resources to handle password reset flows, technical support and more. Also, there is no such thing as an “unhackable” password, and much of online criminal activity is focused on just that.
With SSO, users are authorized at a central point, rather than at the various endpoints they are accessing, reducing the risk of phishing. Universal logout, an important security feature that best-of-breed SSO providers offer, ensures that users can log out of all active sessions with a single click.
SSO consolidates all authentication and authorization into a single token-based transaction, limiting how many times users are asked to sign in while offering them a choice of using either existing profile or social network credentials. Also, for large and dynamic multi-brand businesses, SSO implementation typically requires little coding so it’s easy to add or remove domains.
Increasingly, consumers are relying on a growing list of social networks and other identity providers (IdPs) to manage their online identities, since a consolidated digital “you” offers users more control over privacy and personal preferences that extend to every touchpoint. A solid SSO strategy allows for seamless login using either stored credentials or a broad choice of identity providers and is highly extensible, allowing for new IdPs as they come online.
The best SSO solutions also perform federation of data across every internal or third-party system that needs access to it. SAML has been the standard for accomplishing this well over a decade, with a broad base of support from every business sector. The SAML 2.0 standard uses XML assertions both to authenticate users and to communicate information about them to the service providers they are accessing, so they can be authorized for the appropriate level of access. This standard is ubiquitous for consumer identity management and is secure particularly for RESTful API transactions since it must be in place at both endpoints for access to be granted.
A View Across Channels
Besides removing friction from the login experience, SSO ties all data and activities to individual identities, creating a single customer view for the business and unifying the user experience across all properties. Having truly unified profiles also makes the information in them more actionable to the entire business. “Progressive profiling”—collecting information over time as users cross channels—enables better customer relationships by providing richer profiles with more relevant information. For example:
A registered user of a large media site—who subscribes to several of their streaming services—clicks a CTA for another affiliated site to check out a new channel, where she is automatically logged in upon arrival. The new site then asks the user to choose her favorite film genre via a drop-down menu, and that information is stored in her profile. Now the company’s marketing team can port this data into third-party platforms for analysis and segmentation to create more effective campaign content and personalized recommendations.
Bring Them and Keep Them
Simply put, the more value a customer perceives from his or her experience with a brand, the more valuable that customer becomes to that brand. Simplifying the login process not only makes a good first impression, but each simple and convenient experience from there on solidifies trust between customers and brands. This trust translates directly to loyalty and adds value over the entire customer lifecycle.
By David Kerin