REA Group expands in the cloud. Okta shows the way.
reduction in the number of password-reset requests
of REA’s 1,100 employees using Okta
in annual benefits
- Making a move to the cloud
- Easing users’ technology sign-on experiences
- Strengthening business-continuity planning
- Battening the security hatches
- Humanizing IT
- The next goal: to automate the entire user lifecycle
REA Group’s cloud journey began in 2011 when they realized the need to simplify their employees’ technology experiences. REA wanted to improve employee mobility and rely less on traditional IT to build internal apps.
REA Group selected Okta’s identity and mobility management service for its ability to put user identities at the center, secure mobile access while also ensuring top-rate user experiences.
1,100 users access REA Group’s enterprise cloud-based systems and apps from anywhere in the world, representing an annual productivity increase valued at more than $200K.
In preparation for future growth, IT has added a comprehensive authentication layer to further secure apps and on-premises resources.
Internal culture has undergone a huge transformation as IT now collaborates closely with employees and business units. REA sees Okta as having “humanized technology” that they are more eager than ever to use.
REA Group plans to engage Okta to automate user onboarding and offboarding with seamless communication between their HR system, Workday, directories, and cloud applications. “Okta is one of our must-have requirements.”
Solving the challenge of apps, users and devices
REA Group’s Enterprise Technology team needed to find a way to maintain a solid user experience and secure IT while growing apps, users, and devices internally. Listen to Damian Fasciani, head of Enterprise Technology, as he explains how he used Okta to save the day.
We were able to streamline all the systems into Okta and then have one username and one password that ruled everything to simplify the user experience completely.
Damian Fasciani, Head of Enterprise Technology
Breaking the barriers of how people use technology
REA Group is a multinational digital marketing business specialising in property. Founded over 20 years ago, REA has experienced significant growth. Over the last ten years alone, they’ve seen revenue growth of roughly 35 percent year over year.
With REA Group’s transformation to a digital business, they’ve also seen the transformation of enterprise technology. When you have rapid business growth and an IT organisation focused on rolling out new services, there’s no standing still.
In 2011, REA Group decided it was time to move from an on-prem environment to the cloud. “We wanted to break down the barriers with how people could utilise technology and move away from traditional things like VPN or telling people they had to be in the office to access systems,” said Damian Fasciani, REA Group’s Enterprise Technology Manager. He was on a mission to adopt new technologies to support REA’s growing employee base.
But by 2013, employees were becoming overwhelmed with the number of usernames, passwords and URLs that they had to remember. IT was spending hundreds of hours fulfilling password-reset requests each year. To make matters more complicated, it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage user access outside the office (on mobile phones, tablets, etc.), thereby increasing the risk of security breaches.
Connecting people and technology securely
REA Group wanted a simple, stress-free, and more efficient way for end-users to access the tools they needed to get their jobs done. They needed to build or find a tool to make it easy for end-users to access apps from anywhere.
When Fasciani and his team began researching identity and access management solutions, the answer became obvious. They believed that Okta stood out. According to Fasciani, “It was immediately clear that Okta Identity Management was a natural fit for REA Group's growing cloud environment.”
Next, the team worked closely with Okta on a deployment plan. “We were able to streamline all the systems into Okta and then have one username and one password that ruled everything to simplify the user experience completely,” Fasciani said.
One hidden bonus was how easy it was to work with Okta. “Okta has been part of a small group of vendors that have been really easy to deal with. We are trying to build a simple, efficient, and stress-free property experience, which is exactly the same experience we had engaging with Okta.” Fasciani explained.
Rolling out seamless, easy access
In mid 2013, REA Group began rolling out Okta’s solutions. By November of the same year, they’d rolled out Okta to all 1,100 employees internationally. Employees benefitted from seamless application access, and IT saw 95 percent of password reset requests eliminated. Given their huge focus on security, REA also implemented Okta’s multi-factor authentication.
When IT launched Okta, there was a certain level of shock within parts of the organisation. “When I say shock, it was good shock,” Fasciani announced. “It was the realisation that enterprise IT could deliver a robust product, build that user-friendly experience, and give people that one pane of glass of the systems they need all in one place.” It brought the team closer to people in the business.
The enterprise IT team has also seen a cultural shift over the last couple of years with Okta. They aren’t investing in Web-scaling technology or building their own authentication platform like they used to.
Once Okta was launched, people could see the new value of technology, and that kick-started a new relationship between Fasciani’s team and other business units. Teams came to them saying, “We’re thinking about using this technology. How do we put it into Okta?” Okta has become the centre of user access management and mobility.
Fasciani now knows you only have to give users access to the systems they need. “When there is simplicity in technology, people gravitate toward it,” he posited. “You can introduce the best tech at REA, but if it’s not simple, people won’t gravitate toward it. And I think Okta does that well.”
Reinventing the IT experience
Fasciani believes using Okta allows REA’s IT department to act more as a consulting team instead of just a technology team. Fasciani’s team has always insisted that the employees are their most important customers. Now that IT isn’t spending time on manual tasks, they can follow-through on this statement. IT has created its own version of Apple’s Genius Bar in each office, ensuring the best “customer” experience. “Okta has changed people’s perception of internal IT. It’s opened more relationships and doors and has been hugely positive,” Fasciani says.
One of the remaining manual processes at REA Group is their HR-to-IT hand-off. Today, IT spends seven to eight hours on each provisioning or deprovisioning event. By leveraging Workday-as-a-Master integration, Fasciani believes they can cut this down to 45 minutes to an hour. REA plans to use Universal Directory to customise, organise, and manage user attributes and to roll out Office 365 this year as well.
Accomplishing a rapid immersion into the cloud
IT has been able to move 98 percent of the company’s internal applications to the cloud. They now have 148 applications in Okta.
Okta has even become part of REA’s due diligence process when considering new SaaS vendors. “If there’s no compatibility with Okta, we don’t invest in those technologies,” says Fasciani. “Okta is one of our must-have requirements. It’s embedded itself from IT all the way through to the organisation.”
About REA Group
REA Group Limited ACN 068 349 066 (ASX:REA) is a multinational digital advertising business specialising in property. REA operates Australia’s leading residential and commercial property websites, realestate.com.au and realcommercial.com.au, European sites casa.it, atHome.lu and immoRegion.fr, Chinese property site myfun.com and a number of property portals in Asia via its ownership of iProperty Group. REA also has a significant shareholding in US based Move, Inc.