How OneLogin used Machine Learning to speed up Single Sign-On

November 8th, 2017   /     /   product and technology

When companies execute Digital Transformation strategies, a typical goal is to move faster than the competition. Introduce new products faster. Service customers faster. Adapt to market changes faster.

Because the faster your users can access their SaaS apps, the faster they can execute.

This is why you should take a hard look at the user experience in your single sign-on portal. It’s something that many of your users access many times a day. It can be a bottleneck or a bullet train, depending on its usability — or lack thereof. In fact, a University of California study found that knowledge workers shift “working spheres” about every ten minutes. Since each of these shifts may involve a different set of apps, it helps to make single sign on (SSO) as frictionless as possible.

So when we designed our new portal, we kept two use cases in mind:

  1. Frequently used apps, such Office 365, Salesforce, etc. These get launched multiple times daily, so we have to make them launchable in seconds. Otherwise, you’re dealing with constant annoyance as you try to get your job done.

  2. Rarely used apps, like that open enrollment app that gets used just once a year. These need to be easily re-discovered, among the dozens or even hundreds of apps the company uses. Because nothing’s worse than having to email coworkers just to track down that one app to do one infrequent task.

With this in mind, we’ve rebuilt the OneLogin Portal from the ground up to make accessing apps incredibly fast — whether the app is accessed hourly, annually, or somewhere in between.

So what’s new?

Search-to-Launch: Lightning fast app startup

The new OneLogin Portal has been completely reworked around search functionality, and now provides a super quick way to launch any company app, regardless of how frequently that app is used.

To work fast, you can do everything with just the keyboard. (Using the mouse is still an option, of course.) To search for an app, just type its name. When your app shows up, hit Enter to launch it. Press Escape to try a different search. If you get multiple results, use the arrow keys to pick the right app. To change tabs, hit Alt-Tab.


Instantly view frequently used apps, thanks to machine learning

When we looked at how our customers use the OneLogin Portal, we saw that people typically use a specific subset of apps very frequently while other apps just sit idle. We asked ourselves — how do we predict which apps the user is most likely to open and display these apps prominently so they can be instantly spotted and launched?

“Frequents” are just that — our machine learning engine in OneLogin predicts the apps that you are most likely to use and shows them prominently, just so you can hit the ground running each day.

Frequents are customized for each user. So someone in sales might see, say, Salesforce and Docusign, when someone in software engineering will see Jira and GitHub.

More precisely, a newly created user will “inherit” Frequents that are similar to those of users with similar roles as them. This helps them have a smoother onboarding process so they can be instantly productive. Later, as they use OneLogin Portal over time, their frequents will shift to reflect their unique work patterns.

App search that works the way you do

With infrequently used apps, users often can recall what the app does, but not what it’s called. So we now let admins (and users) create keyword-rich descriptions for each individual app. These can contain a task name, category name, old brand name, or department name. Users can then search for apps by any of those terms.

Some examples:

  • Task name: Want to request time off — but because it’s been a year since you’ve done so, you can’t remember which app you need to do that? Just enter “time off”, “vacation”, or “pto” and up will pop the right app. In the demo below, this is ADP.

  • Category: It’s open enrollment, and you can’t remember which health plans apps your company uses. Just enter “open enrollment” or “health” and the right apps show up, such as Aetna, Kaiser, and Optum.

  • Old brand name: Nothing’s worse than having to shift your habits just because a software vendor decided to change their brand. So, for instance, we let you search for “microsoft” and “excel” to pull up Office 365. And “Google Apps” to search for G Suite.

  • Department name: Have you been pulled into a cross-functional project by, say, your marketing team, but can’t remember the name of the project management app they use? Type in “marketing”, and up pops Asana — the project management tool (only) Marketing seems to love.

  • Abbreviation: Sales folks often refer to Salesforce as “sfdc” (short for SalesForce Dot Com). OneLogin lets you search by this convention, and any others your organization uses.

Mobile-ready, so you can work anywhere

OneLogin Portal works great on a mobile device since it’s built using responsive web design. When the display window shrinks in width, you’ll see a vertical layout. All with the same auto-generated frequents and search capabilities, so you can quickly launch web apps on your phone.

Universal Connector: work with any app

There are literally thousands of SaaS applications on the market for every niche imaginable — even software to manage horse barns. And chances are, your users will want to use some of these (the apps, not the barns) to get their jobs done. For them, OneLogin Portal introduces a brand new App Store that lets them launch these apps fast.

Users can lookup apps or web services and quickly add new logins to their personal OneLogin Portal. When a user encounters an app that is not listed in the catalog, the new App Store offers a universal connector. The user need only specify the login URL, their username and password, and boom — the new app will appear in their portal from now on.

Designed for Accessibility

The OneLogin Portal is designed to be Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 compliant, so all your employees can use it. WCAG 2.0 is a standard to make web content more easily accessible to people with disabilities, and is often a requirement for schools and government buyers.

We know that our users value OneLogin as a tool to quickly get to the apps they need, and we believe they will love the experience of using the fastest SSO portal in the industry. Click here to get the new OneLogin portal, or get a demo here to learn more.

About the Author

Dusan Vitek is Director of Product Management at OneLogin. He co-founded the identity and access management startup, Portadi, which was acquired by OneLogin in June 2016. Prior to Portadi, he had spent 15+ years in the Internet security industry. Dusan loves technology products, and enjoys building the companies that offer simple solutions to complex problems.

View all posts by Dusan Vitek