EG Group: Keeping employees and customers safe, and essential services running, with Okta
Rely on SSO and MFA to access work applications securely
Use SSO and MFA to seamlessly access new health and safety information
With Okta as the first line of defence for identity and access management practices
- Finding new ways to ensure health and safety
- Turning to Okta for simplicity and innovation
- Keeping essential services running securely
- Moving to 12,000 locations overnight, seamlessly
- Continuing to exceed the expectations of customers
EG Group is a conglomerate of petrol pump operators and convenience stores that span 6,000 sites across 10 different countries, and employs 55,000 people. It has always placed health and safety at the heart of its global sites to ensure the wellbeing of its staff and customers, but at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic it faced the need to reinvent its processes and empower employees with up-to-date information remotely.
EG Group’s global IT team drafted a strategy to simplify its processes, deliver information to employees and partners quickly and remotely, as well as enable employees to work remotely with secure access to the business applications they need to do their jobs. EG Group then turned to Okta to help them transform its business with the right solutions.
As information flow became crucial for EG Group to continue delivering services while rolling out new processes, the group established Universal Directory as its primary repository of user identities to remotely manage and support different user groups such as employees and external partners. With Single Sign-On and Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication, the group enabled them to access work tools and information after verifying their identities in a secure and practical manner.
In 2020, as people began to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EG Group went from having 6,000 locations to 12,000 locations overnight, and each new location needed to support remote working. By integrating Okta with key collaboration tools such as Zoom and SAP Analytics Cloud, EG Group’s global IT team could support employees and partners with an automated identity verification process and smooth user experiences, ensuring efficiency and security as the group adjusted to new ways of working.
As the health and safety concerns of 2020 demanded that people have less contact with physical objects, EG Group is developing an app to enable customers to purchase fuel and convenience goods; reducing the number of physical contact points and making some completely contactless. With Okta customer identity capabilities, the group will ensure maximum security and continue to roll out the new services to better serve customers moving forward.
“Our IT strategy for supporting employees remotely was to simplify our processes, secure access to all of our applications, and enable them to access new information seamlessly and quickly. We selected Okta as the best tool for the job in all of these categories.”
Graham Billsborough, CIO, EG Group
It all started in 2001, when brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa opened a single petrol station in Greater Manchester with the mission to exceed the expectations of customers looking for convenience and quality services. Twenty years on, their mission remains unchanged. However, the brothers’ business has drastically transformed: today, it is an empire called EG Group, consisting of petrol pump operators and convenience stores that span 6,000 sites across 10 countries. Partnering with globally recognised retail and convenience brands, the group employs 55,000 people globally to deliver fuel, convenience, and food and drink offers with high customer service standards. Traditionally, to bring these services to life, EG Group has maintained close contact with customers and stakeholders. But in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the group was forced to reinvent its processes.
As countries gradually unveiled new lockdown measures to protect citizens from the virus, it became more important than ever for EG Group to maintain business continuity as an essential service. “Typically, we’d have health and safety teams frequently visiting all of our sites to deliver up-to-date information and train our staff on a regular basis. But as the pandemic hit, instead of having more personnel circulating our sites we needed to minimise the exposure to our employees and customers,” says EG Group CIO Graham Billsborough.
“We were fuelling ambulances, serving medical workers with free coffee, and keeping all of our stores open for people who came to rely on us for essential goods,” Graham recalls. To make this possible, Graham’s team, which oversees the Group’s global IT strategy from its UK headquarters, needed a solution to deliver information to employees, partners and customers safely, quickly, and remotely, turning to Okta for support.
“Our IT strategy for supporting employees remotely was to simplify our processes, secure access to all of our applications, and enable them to access new information seamlessly and quickly. We selected Okta as the best tool for the job in all of these categories,” says Graham.
Keeping essential services running with safety and security in mind
As information flow became crucial for EG Group to continue delivering services while rolling out new processes, the Group’s first step was to ensure that remote communication could happen effectively and securely across teams. To do this, the Group took several measures on a country-by-country basis to ensure that its new processes mirrored local demands.
In Germany, for example, EG Group started by building intranet sites for its stores across the country so that all staff and thousands of relevant external partners could access information about new processes and safety measures in a distanced and secure way. Much of this information is company confidential, so the Group needed to have full visibility and control over the access rights of users requesting to see it. To do this, EG Group selected Okta Universal Directory as a repository of user identities to establish different access rights for different user groups. Then, the Group integrated its Intranet sites with Single Sign-On and Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication to enable stakeholders to access them after verifying their identities in a secure and practical manner.
“Okta was a key enabler for us to make our training information available for thousands of staff, third-party organisations, and external business partners, quickly,” explains Graham of the project. “As our first-line of defence, Okta helps us to ensure that only those who should be accessing our systems are actually using our systems, no more and no less. We’ve never had a breach since transforming our operations, which is crucial for maintaining our essential services running,” he adds.
Globally, information flow was also essential for managerial teams to ensure that EG Group could continue serving its customers while controlling costs for the business to stay sustainable. For this, the Group uses SAP Analytics Cloud to aggregate data about key aspects of the business, such as the sales performance of each site, and makes that data available for management teams by integrating the solution with Single Sign-On and Multi-Factor Authentication.
EG Group also integrated Single-Sign On with Zoom to enable worldwide collaboration, as its Zoom usage went from 1,000 minutes a month to more than three million minutes a month, globally. “In the second quarter of 2020, EG Group moved overnight from having 6,000 locations, including forecourts and head offices, to 12,000 locations as people began to work remotely,” explains Graham. “Linking our key collaboration tools with Okta was essential for the IT team to support people in double the number of locations because it automates identity verification processes without complicating the user experience,” he explains. “Okta gave us the confidence to continue performing as an essential service and ensured that we could transition smoothly to a new modus operandi.”
Unifying IT systems to unite a global group
One reason why EG Group was able to adjust to the new circumstances so promptly is that it had already established the foundations for its Okta deployment since December 2019, with the aim of simplifying its architecture. “We’re a very acquisitive company that has grown massively since its inception. For the last three years alone, we’ve been doubling in size year on year,” explains Graham. “For the IT team, this has meant that every quarter there were up to five different companies being acquired and integrated into the business, each with their own footprint of AD, user base, and security practices. We selected Okta as the best tool for simplifying our complex setup of isolated systems so we could become a truly unified group,” he recalls. “The need to stay open and enable employees remotely merely sped up our implementation journey.”
Because EG Group is continually expanding, simplifying its technology landscape is an ongoing project, Graham explains. But already in its early stages of deployment, 4,000 employees and 1,000 external partners rely on Single Sign-On and Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication to access EG Group’s key systems and applications, as well as innovative reactive products being built in-house such as the German intranet sites.
Continuing to innovate and exceed the expectations of customers
As the health and safety concerns of 2020 demanded that people had less contact with physical objects, EG Group is now focusing on developing new digital services for its customer base. “We're developing digital applications for our customers, and we’re looking at Okta customer identity capabilities to enable them to access these services securely,” says Graham, explaining that EG Group wants to enable customers to purchase goods and fuel through an app.
A quarter of EG Group’s global sites already enable digital payments for fuel and convenience items, as well as transactions in quick-service restaurants, through brand apps provided by EG Group’s partners. But in the near future, EG Group will enable customers to navigate all of its services in just one place, using its own app, reducing the number of physical touch points to access what they need.
“Digital security is key in bringing this vision to life successfully because our customers will be using this app as a digital wallet to collect loyalty points and rewards. We want to ensure that their personal data and money are as safe as can be, and Okta will play a key role in helping us do that,” says Graham. “So we look forward to continually innovating our services with Okta.”