Hunting Nessie

Jakob Nielson declares Portal SSO to be the Loch Ness Monster of Portal Usability (hat tip to Vikram Kumar):

Single sign-on is the Loch Ness monster of the intranet world: People hear about it and even believe it exists, but they’ve yet to see it for real.

In our initial research 5 years ago, it was already clear that single sign-on could dramatically improve user productivity and satisfaction, as well as immensely reduce support costs. (A huge proportion of help desk calls relate to password problems.) At the time, single sign-on was more of a hope than a practical possibility.

Our second round of research confirmed single sign-on’s potential – and its elusiveness.

True single sign-on (SSO) was and is extraordinarily rare, as our third round of research shows. We can only conclude that it’s very difficult to achieve, despite its promise. That said, we’re starting to see an interesting, pragmatic approach to what Kaiser Permanente calls “reduced sign-on.” Work as hard as you can to reduce the number of authentication requests users encounter each day, even if you can’t get it down to 1. You can also reduce frustration by informing users about the impending login request before they click the link that activates the demand.

And this is a real shame. I saw many successful Portal SSO projects at OpenNetwork, but to the vast majority of enterprises it just isn’t a high priority. Too many don’t see the ROI.

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