What’s Behind Your Favorite TV Show? DISH Network Tunes in to the Cloud

When you’re watching your favorite new show or catching the highlights from the big game, you probably don’t think about the process required to deliver that entertainment. And there’s a good chance that the DISH Network team is behind it — they provide programming and technology to about 14 million pay-TV subscribers with a mission of being the very best at delivering video anywhere, anytime.

We were able to catch up with John Swieringa, Executive Vice President of Operations at DISH to discuss the needs of his customers and his 24,000 DISH employees. Swieringa has a unique perspective having previously served as the company's CIO, and winning the Colorado Technology Association Chief Information Officer of the Year award in 2015.

DISH Adapts To New Customer Needs

Customers today use DISH for a wider variety of services than ever before and their expectations are higher. According to Swieringa, once consumers got used to the idea that they could pull 250 digital channels down from space to play on their home television set, expectations were set for the next generation. And this evolution continues as customers want to access entertainment on mobile devices or away from home and DISH’s technical and support teams need to connect to their customers there. Traditional IT teams sit in cubicles all day. Not at DISH.

"We’re a contact sport business," says Swieringa. "We’re up, we’re on the move." "It’s incumbent that we don’t spend a lot of time in our own building worrying about technology problems," he says. "We’re out working with customers."

To empower an on-the-move team , Swieringa realized he needed to take decisive steps to evolve his IT team into a cloud-first organization, and he recognized the need for an enterprise-grade identity management company to partner with. “We saw Okta as a great partner for us as we embark on this journey to what computing looks like for the next-generation workforce and the next-generation customer,” said Swieringa.

The first step in the DISH journey: using Okta to roll out Office 365. Planning for the initial Okta deployment began in June, 2015. Within two months, about 5,000 IT users were using Okta to log into Office 365.

An Expanding Partnership

Beyond the Office 365 deployment, Okta empowers DISH to become even more self-sufficient and mobile in a variety of other ways. Okta’s vendor-neutral platform offered fast and flexible app integrations that no other provider could compete with. Today, Swieringa counts 15 applications integrated for single sign-on with Okta and expects this number to continue to grow.

The ability for employees to access the Okta-powered quick-launch environment empowers employees to find the resources and tools they need on a daily basis. At DISH, it’s all about providing workers the ability to access the right tools to make life easier, which in turn improves productivity — and ultimately, keeps customer needs as the top priority.

As the company continues to evolve, Swieringa sees many opportunities for Okta integration, including managing consumer identities and authenticating customers for viewing Sling TV or other products. In the meantime, DISH IT will continue working on providing reliable authentication access to the applications needed by technicians and the broader 24,000 DISH employees.

Check out the interview below and the full customer journey to see what’s next for DISH.