When chief technology officer, Sebastien Huet joined France's Re´my Cointreau in 2015 he faced a challenge familiar to many global brands which was to create a more agile organisation through its IT infrastructure, providing employees with the ability to securely access applications from any device at any time and from anywhere.
Re´my Cointreau is headquartered in Paris, trading its range of exclusive brands of alcoholic drinks internationally, and Huet sought to implement “Smart Security” to create a secure cloud-based infrastructure, and thereby help transform the company into a more agile organisation.
Identity management central to the goal of flexibility and security
Huet's challenge was three-fold: to drive flexibility across the business, deliver employees single sign-off to all the apps they need, located in one central portal and to ease the on boarding process and increase productivity for all users “Security being paramount, we knew we'd need to transfer focus from the network and the device to the applications. Identity management would be essential to achieving these goals,” explains Huet.
Sebastien Huet, CTO, Remy Cointreau
A key component of that transition would be the upgrade of its IT infrastructure to deliver the desired flexibility, respond better to changing worker habits and deliver exceptional support for the business.
“When I joined Re´my Cointreau it took me weeks to get access to all the applications I needed,” says Huet. “If that were the case across the company, we'd have serious efficiency issues — our employees access 20 applications a day, on average. It was clear that productivity was not being optimised.”
Huet encountered another example underscoring the need for an overhaul. “It took months to open our new office in Asia,” he says. “One of our key objectives is to have the ability to open a new office anywhere in the world in a matter of days.”
Technology for competitive advantage
Despite annual revenue of over a billion Euros, Re´my is a relatively small company in a large, extremely competitive market. It was essential that the company leverage technology to its advantage. “With an IT team of 50 people supporting the entire worldwide organisation, we need highly- effective solutions that are easy to deploy and easy to maintain for the local IT teams,” says Huet.
Huet and his team set out to transform IT and with it, the business as a whole. “The company was moving to a cloud-based architecture, with the goal of relying exclusively on web apps,” he says. “We wanted to be able to access apps from any device, anywhere and at any time, so mobile management was crucial. And for optimal security, we needed to transfer focus from the network and the device to the applications.”
Re´my initiated a search for a cloud-based identity management solution that would secure application access, dramatically simplify user provisioning and the onboarding of new employees, help to ease the build out of new corporate offices and provide a central portal where users could access all the resources they needed from one place.
The organisation made a strategic decision to implement a central identify service. The company says it chose Centrify Identity Service to increase the company's agility. The solution's mobility and management were able to secure all users' access to apps, endpoints and infrastructure through single sign-on as well as its multi-factor authentication and privileged access security capabilities would also play a key role in reducing costs.
It also provided a portal through which users could get access to applications with a click or tap, from any device. “In effect, it ties all the apps together and gives them the feel of one large, unified solution,” says Huet.
Technologies need to be simple and easily accessed for the business user as well. Forgotten passwords, password resets, and account lockouts and reactivations were a problem for Re´my IT, responsible for 30 percent of all help desk tickets. With the industry average cost of a help desk call running anywhere from €25 to €30, these calls not only usurped valuable IT time and negatively impacted productivity, they cost the company real money.
“Re´my previously had a single sign-on solution but it was only available in French and suffered from a number of support barriers,” says Huet. “Adding new apps through that system was expensive, and that helped us to build a business case for why we make the transition.” Thus agility rather than cost was the key factor in technology choice.
Huet adds, “New employees are productive more quickly after joining the company and easier access has made existing employees more efficient as well.”
Early on, the company hadn't planned to move its enterprise mobility management to a central solution, however, during implementation the team evaluated its functionality and decided to move forward with the consolidated solution. “We were already using a mobile device management product..., but it made sense to consolidate all identity management in one place, especially since it would alleviate further pressure from IT with one less product to manage, and save on the costs of a separate security solution.”
Multi-factor authentication is next for Re´my. “For the same reasons, it makes sense to leverage the central solution to the furthest degree possible.” While the move was strategic, “the ability to reduce our costs through the displacement of adjacent products can't be overstated,” concludes Huet.