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Dentsu Aegis Network, a media and digital marketing communications company, recently underwent significant expansion through a series of mergers and acquisitions. The company’s original on-prem infrastructure caused a tremendous amount of friction in an M&A environment, so the decision was made to establish a new, cloud-first framework supported by Okta identity products.

By turning to Okta’s Customer First team, Dentsu Aegis was able to complete a two-phase modernization process in record time. With Customer First, they supplemented the Dentsu Aegis team with Okta experts, provided training to the Dentsu Aegis personnel and ensured fast customer support was available when needed. In the end, the Customer First team helped Dentsu Aegis achieve more than they ever thought possible

Growing Pains

When Dentsu Aegis first contacted Okta’s Customer First team, it had two specific goals in mind:

1. Modernize the company’s IT infrastructure from on-prem to the cloud; and
2. Secure the company’s modernized framework with Multi-Factor Authentication

Dentsu Aegis provides a variety of services for customers, including developing creative workflow experiences for advertising to enhancing media relations. The company has gone through a series of mergers and acquisitions that grew its workforce to more than 45,000 employees in 143 countries.

Before its expansion, the company relied on legacy infrastructure, traditional security solutions and multiple identify platforms. At the best of times, this process was expensive and labor-intensive to maintain, but in an environment where mergers and acquisitions were becoming common, it quickly became unmanageable.

“We support employees in the three regions—EMEA, Asia Pacific and the Americas—each with a very different technology experience,” says Paul Timmins, CIO of Global Operations at Dentsu Aegis. “We want to empower staff. We want to give them a much more secure experience, but also make it the most consumer-focused experience we can.”

Dentsu Aegis needed an identity partner that could make it easy to support and secure employees. Okta’s strong commitment to customer success made it an obvious choice.

“We recognized Okta as the best-in-class platform,” he says. “Having previously used Okta myself, I felt very much able to stand behind the products.”

“It’s not just about product features and functionality. Focus on customer success is a key consideration when we evaluate any SaaS partner.”

– Paul Timmins

A meeting with Okta’s Customer First team was the initial step on Dentsu Aegis’ Okta journey. “Customer First was very helpful from the beginning,” says Timmins. “They understood our needs and had insightful ideas on where we could go.”

Dentsu Aegis went into the meeting with its goal of controlling access and keeping staff secure in mind. The company had come up with a strong approach on its own, but Customer First’s experts applied the learnings they had gained over thousands of Okta implementations, and came up with an even better one. “It was clear that their experts had seen our challenges before with other customers, and that they would bring the expertise to ensure our deployment would be successful,” said Timmons.

For example, Customer First suggested automating the provisioning process by adopting Lifecycle Management and making Workday a single source of truth. Dentsu Aegis, thrilled by the prospect of adding another element of security and further reducing the IT workload, quickly decided to expand the scope of the project.

A Customized Strategy

All of these initiatives--migrating to the cloud, increasing access control and security, and automating provisioning--were a joint effort by three components of Okta’s Customer First team: Professional Services, Education Services and Customer Success and Support Services.

Okta offers a range of implementation options, from standard packages designed for basic deployments to custom projects designed to simplify even the most complex rollouts. Dentsu Aegis selected an option that added Okta Professional Services experts to the IT team for the duration of the two-phase deployment. This was important, because before the deployment took place, Timmins was the only person on the team with Okta experience.

Multiple regions with different IT environments added a layer of complexity, but Okta’s Professional Services experts, with their intimate understanding of how Okta works, were able to offer solutions that met each region’s specific needs. “Professional Services helped us understand where we wanted to go, and gave us the best way to get there,” says Timmins. “They also showed us how we can make the most of our investment by building on Okta.”

Timmins and his team selected a core set of apps, including Office 365, Workday, Tableau, ServiceNow and Zoom. Then they deployed SSO—a process that was completed during a single weekend. “Changing a user's log-on experience is quite a critical action, especially when you’re working with 45,000 identities over the course of a weekend,” says Timmins. “With Okta, we managed to do it seamlessly.”

Next, they rolled out MFA with Okta Verify, adding a strong, flexible layer of security that would give employees the ability to safely access the tools they need from anywhere, and on any device. API Access Management added additional security to all endpoints.

Once the initial framework was in place, and all user accounts and apps were secure, it was time to automate the provisioning process. Professional Services helped Timmins establish Workday as a single source of truth and deploy Lifecycle Management, an initiative that would significantly reduce the IT team’s workload on a day-to-day basis. Now, HR simply enters changes into Workday, and those changes automatically feed down to the other integrated apps.

“The Professional Services team were extremely helpful when we were looking at the Workday + Okta integration,” says Timmins. “They understood the nuances of both products, and how to leverage them to establish a single source of truth.”

“It's very much a testament to Okta’s expertise that we were able to roll the products out and get staff up to speed so quickly.”

– Paul Timmons

Digging Deep

Of course, the new framework and sign-on process meant employees were experiencing significant amounts of change. But the potential for frustration was eased by the fact that Timmins took advantage of Okta’s Customer First expansive catalog of Educational courseware.

“Training was a key component in the deployment process. We offered training to select staff during the deployment itself, but based on our successes and positive feedback, we then built on that, adding training for more and more of our staff,” says Timmins.

Ultimately, Timmins and team defined a learning plan that included three focused courses for the IT employees who would benefit most from training. Nine employees took Okta Essentials, 19 participated in Private Help Desk Training and one attended the Deploy O365 with Okta course.

“We wanted all of our IT staff to be familiar with Okta, so we designed a learning plan that offered training to a large number of them,” says Timmins. “I think this has helped in multiple ways—they not only understand what Okta can do, but also how they can use Okta in new ways we might not have thought about before.”

As an added perk for employees, Timmins says the training will benefit their careers. “We see Okta as a market leader that everyone is now using,” he says. “Having Okta Certification on your resume certainly adds to your career growth.”

Constant Support

Throughout this whole process, Timmins has also benefited from access to a dedicated Customer Success Manager, a contributing factor in Dentsu’s purchase of the Okta Premier Plus Support Package.

“The Customer Success Manager is our key point of contact within Okta,” says Timmins. “They help us when we need help, escalate our tickets and help us understand how to leverage new features. We see our Okta Customer Support Manager as part of the Dentsu Aegis team, and their ‘always-on’ approach to support very much applies to that.”

Customer Support also provides access to valuable metrics to help Timmins determine how well the apps within the Dentsu Aegis framework are performing—and how well they’re being used. “We’ve also partnered with the Customer Success Manager to look at the same sort of metrics as they relate to Okta.”

As a whole, Timmins is very pleased with the support Okta’s Customer First team has provided from beginning to end. “The support experience is very, very easy,” he says. “The staff are responsive when we raise tickets, and they let us know when they’re launching new features.”

Moving Forward

Timmins has big plans for 2019. Now that he’s got a basic provisioning workflow in place, he’s exploring new ways to accomplish more with Okta. And with the Customer First team at his side, he looks forward to quickly and efficiently meeting his goals. “The training we accessed was a critical component of our ability to roll out Okta quickly.”

“I think the faster time-to-value is very much a key Customer First benefit.”

– Paul Timmons

He also loves having the inside scoop on how new Okta features can specifically benefit Dentsu Aegis. “Okta as a product and Okta's customer service team are very helpful in terms of helping us get our hands around identity.”

For Timmins, however, Okta is simply a perfect match. To him, Dentsu Aegis employees are his customers, and he takes his responsibility to them very seriously. “The way I measure success in my role at Dentsu Aegis is by how easy and frictionless I’m able to make the lives of our staff members, while still maintaining security controls.”

Dentsu Aegis achieved this by incorporating Okta experts into their team from the very beginning. Working closely with professionals who possess an intimate understanding of Okta gave the company insight into possibilities it hadn’t even considered. Ultimately, this relationship between Customer First and Dentsu Aegis made the deployment a pleasant, frictionless experience from beginning to end.

“I think Okta recognizes that in order to be successful, the businesses using Okta also need to be successful,” Timmins says. “And I think that Customer Success and the Customer Success Manager work hand-in-hand to achieve that. It very much feels like Okta has our back.”