Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Mike Kavis, Ian Khan, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Why SaaS Vendors Must Offer Automated Sign-On to All Business Customers

It is much more than a security issue

First, let's define what I mean by automated sign-on. Some call it federated sign-on, others just single sign-on. For business customers it means that they use their corporate network sign-on and user directory to manage access to an external application. Automated sign-on requires user management to be automated as well; otherwise end users do not get access automatically.

Typically, automated sign-on is regarded to be something troublesome and costly, which slows down rollouts, adds complexity and requires involvement from customer IT organizations, something that SaaS vendors often want to avoid at any cost. Most of the solutions on the market are very complex, and require investments and expertise from both SaaS vendors and their customers, so the fears are not without ground. As a result, many SaaS vendors only offer automated sign-on when they cannot avoid it.

However, automated sign-on can be one of the most important tools in meeting some of the most important business objectives for a SaaS business:

  • engaging customers and keeping them
  • minimizing unit costs

Let's have a closer look at how automated sign-on can help.

Engaging customers and keeping them
Engaging new, revenue generating users is a must if you want to grow your SaaS business. However, people are very reluctant to spend time with sign-up forms. According to a study by Blue Research covering UK consumers, only 14% of them were sure to sign up, the rest would at least hesitate. Signing up to business applications is typically more complex, due to information related to billing and access rights, so the numbers are definitely not higher. Automated sign-on helps you get rid of the sign-up form, as most of the information needed can be found in the customer's user directory, and can easily be transferred to your application as part of sign-on.

Engaging customers is important, but keeping them is even more important. As customers pay per usage, the break even for a customer might be several months or even years, which means that loyalty is business critical. According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, businesses which improved customer retention rates by as little as 5% saw increases in profits 5% to 95%.

How loyal are end users? According to research from Totango, half of paid SaaS customers do not actually use the applications. What happens to your business when they stop paying as well?

How can automated sign-on help you improve loyalty and retention rates? According to the previously mentioned study covering UK consumers, 90% of them had left a web site if they forgot their password or login info, instead of answering security questions or re-setting their password. The login screen is obviously a major threat to loyalty, and automated sign-on helps you eliminate that threat.

Minimizing unit costs
The other part of a successful SaaS equation is minimizing unit costs. Shared resources and automated management helps minimizing unit costs, whereas anything specific to a certain customer or an end user threatens to increase them significantly.

Manual user management is a major challenge to unit costs. The personnel turnover in a typical organization is about 10%, and organizations are restructured every 2-3 years. From a user management perspective this means that at least half of all user profiles have to be updated every year. If your helpdesk takes care of these updates, the cost can be 5% of the revenue per user. Password resets add to these figures, studies have shown that the number of password resets per week can be as high as 10% of the number of employees in an organization.

You can of course outsource user management and the costs related it to the customer. However, then the most critical gatekeeper to your application will be someone who you have no control over, and who has no real incentives to drive revenue for your application. As a result, maintaining user profiles in your application is likely to be a relatively low priority, which leads to slower engagement as well as incorrect invoicing information leading to increased costs for settling those invoices.

Automated user management solves all these issues. Every time a user signs on to the application, up-to-date information from his own organization is transferred to the application, minimizing the need for manual user management. According to my experience, well over 90% of user management can be automated this way.

Conclusion
Automated sign-on is business critical to SaaS vendors serving large and mid-sized customer organizations. It brings significant and measurable improvements to the most important objectives of a SaaS business: driving engagement and usage, fighting churn and minimizing unit costs. And you get improved security as a bonus. Obviously automated sign-on is something any growth oriented SaaS vendor should push, if only there was a solution that could be used to serve most of their customer base (shared resources) and which demands as little as possible per customer rollout (unit costs).

If you are interested is such a solution, read more here.

More Stories By Kjell Backlund

Kjell Backlund, CEO of Emillion, is a seasoned software business entrepreneur with over 20 years experience in international business. He founded Emillion in 2001, with the vision that automating sign-on and user management would be essential to the success of SaaS and Service Desk applications(www.emillion.biz).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Expo" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
Our guest on the podcast this week is JP Morgenthal, Global Solutions Executive at CSC. We discuss the architecture of microservices and how to overcome the challenge of making different tools work together. We learn about the importance of hiring engineers who can compose services into an integrated system.
Alibaba, the world’s largest ecommerce provider, has pumped over a $1 billion into its subsidiary, Aliya, a cloud services provider. This is perhaps one of the biggest moments in the global Cloud Wars that signals the entry of China into the main arena. Here is why this matters. The cloud industry worldwide is being propelled into fast growth by tremendous demand for cloud computing services. Cloud, which is highly scalable and offers low investment and high computational capabilities to end us...
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
One of the ways to increase scalability of services – and applications – is to go “stateless.” The reasons for this are many, but in general by eliminating the mapping between a single client and a single app or service instance you eliminate the need for resources to manage state in the app (overhead) and improve the distributability (I can make up words if I want) of requests across a pool of instances. The latter occurs because sessions don’t need to hang out and consume resources that could ...
Microservices has the potential of significantly impacting the way in which developers create applications. It's possible to create applications using microservices faster and more efficiently than other technologies that are currently available. The problem is that many people are suspicious of microservices because of all the technology claims to do. In addition, anytime you start moving things around in an organization, it means changing the status quo and people dislike change. Even so, micr...
"We've just seen a huge influx of new partners coming into our ecosystem, and partners building unique offerings on top of our API set," explained Seth Bostock, Chief Executive Officer at IndependenceIT, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
JavaScript is primarily a client-based dynamic scripting language most commonly used within web browsers as client-side scripts to interact with the user, browser, and communicate asynchronously to servers. If you have been part of any web-based development, odds are you have worked with JavaScript in one form or another. In this article, I'll focus on the aspects of JavaScript that are relevant within the Node.js environment.
Approved this February by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), HTTP/2 is the first major update to HTTP since 1999, when HTTP/1.1 was standardized. Designed with performance in mind, one of the biggest goals of HTTP/2 implementation is to decrease latency while maintaining a high-level compatibility with HTTP/1.1. Though not all testing activities will be impacted by the new protocol, it's important for testers to be aware of any changes moving forward.
This week, I joined SOASTA as Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics. Given my background in cloud computing and distributed systems operations — you may have read my blogs on CNET or GigaOm — this may surprise you, but I want to explain why this is the perfect time to take on this opportunity with this team. In fact, that’s probably the best way to break this down. To explain why I’d leave the world of infrastructure and code for the world of data and analytics, let’s explore the timing...
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...
Auto-scaling environments, micro-service architectures and globally-distributed teams are just three common examples of why organizations today need automation and interoperability more than ever. But is interoperability something we simply start doing, or does it require a reexamination of our processes? And can we really improve our processes without first making interoperability a requirement for how we choose our tools?
Cloud Migration Management (CMM) refers to the best practices for planning and managing migration of IT systems from a legacy platform to a Cloud Provider through a combination professional services consulting and software tools. A Cloud migration project can be a relatively simple exercise, where applications are migrated ‘as is’, to gain benefits such as elastic capacity and utility pricing, but without making any changes to the application architecture, software development methods or busine...
The Internet of Things. Cloud. Big Data. Real-Time Analytics. To those who do not quite understand what these phrases mean (and let’s be honest, that’s likely to be a large portion of the world), words like “IoT” and “Big Data” are just buzzwords. The truth is, the Internet of Things encompasses much more than jargon and predictions of connected devices. According to Parker Trewin, Senior Director of Content and Communications of Aria Systems, “IoT is big news because it ups the ante: Reach out ...
At DevOps Summit NY there’s been a whole lot of talk about not just DevOps, but containers, IoT, and microservices. Sessions focused not just on the cultural shift needed to grow at scale with a DevOps approach, but also made sure to include the network ”plumbing” needed to ensure success as applications decompose into the microservice architectures enabling rapid growth and support for the Internet of (Every)Things.
Our guest on the podcast this week is Adrian Cockcroft, Technology Fellow at Battery Ventures. We discuss what makes Docker and Netflix highly successful, especially through their use of well-designed IT architecture and DevOps.