WhitePages says goodbye to app adoption friction

Okta enables us to deliver a service that lowers the adoption friction for our end users, and empowers them to deal directly with their day-to-day applications. Not only are our users happy, but our IT department is thrilled as well.

Hernan Alvarez Sr. Director of IT Operations

WhitePages accelerates cloud application adoption and user on-boarding by integrating SSO, access control and user management with Okta.

The Situation

Increase user adoption of SaaS applications

The Senior Director of IT Operations was looking for a centralized user management and SSO solution to support the company’s thirteen cloud applications for their 130 corporate employees.

As new applications rolled out, their employees were slow to adopt them, delaying the company’s cloud ROI, lowering user productivity, and increasing the cost to support and maintain these applications going forward. “Traditionally, launching new applications has been met with a lot of friction from our users. Going forward, we wanted to have authentication and SSO in place, to ease the integration and accelerate user adoption.”

Deploy a single sign-on solution for multiple cloud apps

The company lacked a single sign-on solution for their multiple cloud applications, forcing employees to remember multiple URLs, usernames and passwords, decreasing the adoption rate and more robust utilization. But the WhitePages IT team was not looking forward to a lengthy SSO integration project. “We had been down that road a couple of times trying to do SSO integrations with other software vendors,” stated Alvarez. “It was always a pain to integrate with each vendor independently since each one supports SSO a little bit differently. We were spending a tremendous amount of time integrating applications — and they didn’t always work. With only a three-person IT staff, spending that much effort on SSO integration was not a good use of our time. We would rather use that precious resource to keep our fast growth rate on track.”

Extend active directory integration without customization or maintenance

With the imminent rollout of another cloud application, SuccessFactors, a 360 degree employee performance software solution, Alvarez was looking for a centralized user management, authentication and SSO solution for all of WhitePages’ cloud applications that could be integrated into their existing Active Directory configuration and not require internal resources to develop, implement and support.

No automated user provisioning or de-provisioning

The company also needed to accelerate the on-boarding of these applications so they were looking for an identity management system that supported automated provisioning and de-provisioning via SuccessFactors. The SuccessFactors application had just released APIs to enable that functionality, so Alvarez knew it would be challenging to find a commercial solution that supported the new capability.

The Solution

Choosing Okta

After evaluating several solutions, Alvarez came to a quick decision. “We put Okta through the same tests as the other solutions. At the end of the evaluation process, we were by far more comfortable with Okta and its ability to successfully integration across both authentication and user management with a wider selection of different SaaS providers — including Salesforce.com, Google, SuccessFactors, eFax, WebEx — the whole laundry list of productivity tools you expect to find in an organization like ours.”

Alvarez reflected on the challenges they were facing that eventually led them to Okta. “What originally drew us to Okta was our use of Google Docs and Google mail. Every time we’ve rolled out an imperfect integration like that in the past, our users complained bitterly about having to use multiple usernames, passwords, and URLs. There were a couple of other companies that offered integration in the Google Docs space, but they were heavily focused on Google and didn’t offer any additional integration. Other companies did offer some additional integration, but lacked the ability to successfully administer a high-demand application like authentication.”

Alvarez noted that similarity of approaches between the two companies was part of his decision. “We liked the Okta team and their approach. We are a software shop too, so we can dig deeper into their thought process than the average IT company. We asked Okta some very tough, technical questions and got great answers. We were much more comfortable with how Okta designs, executes, and manages their applications than any of their competitors. And they were the first vendor out there to have integrated user management for SuccessFactors which was critical for our deployment.”

The Rollout

White Pages wanted to make sure Okta was in place before the upcoming SuccessFactors roll out. SuccessFactors had a beta version of an API for support of broader user management capability in their application. As the first vendor to support the SuccessFactors API, Okta was able to integrate complete user management for SuccessFactors within Okta and had it ready to rollout inside WhitePages in less than four weeks. The result is that Alvarez’s team can now control user access to SuccessFactors for compliance and audit purposes.

Alvarez explains, “Traditionally, launching new applications has been met with a lot of friction from our users. We didn’t want to have to roll out 150 users with different names and passwords, and then go back and integrate it with Okta. We wanted to have authentication and SSO in place first, to ease the integration and accelerate user adoption.”

The Okta deployment to the entire organization took just under four weeks, notes Alvarez. “Okta really came through on the implementation. It probably would have taken only a few days if we had done it all at once, but we had to work around a few of our other IT projects. And it was extremely easy to implement! The Okta team is very efficient. We were so impressed with the solution that we plan to have another 10 applications integrated with Okta by the end of the year. Okta makes integration of new apps a quick and painless exercise.”

The Benefits

One-click access to all web-based applications

The SuccessFactors package went live with Okta in February. WhitePages’ employees now have just one URL, username, and password to access SuccessFactors, as well as all of their other applications. Alvarez was very impressed with the level of reporting and availability to data provided by the Okta interface. “Cloud apps are by nature very opaque. You can’t always get the information you need as an IT administrator from a SaaS application. With Okta, we now have access to all employee login data, which enables us to improve security and reporting across our organization.

Broad application network

“We’re really glad that we chose a company that has great working relationships within the SaaS community. Okta has broad-based application support from all of the leading SaaS vendors. We were also impressed with Okta’s willingness to integrate new apps that were not in the catalog yet. We had an issue with one of our older HR applications, where the company hadn’t really stepped up to SSO integration yet. Okta was totally willing to jump through the hoops and talk to that company, and eventually got it integrated. That was big plus for us that they were willing to help us solve our very specific and difficult issue.”

Win win - Increasing productivity for IT and end-users

Okta continues to make life easier for everyone at WhitePages. “With Okta, our SaaS applications are user self-service, which takes our IT team out of the loop almost completely,” notes Alvarez. “Okta enables us to deliver a service that lowers the adoption friction for our end users, and empowers them to deal directly with their day-to-day applications. Not only are our users happy — our IT department is thrilled as well!”

About WhitePages

WhitePages is the leading provider of contact information for people and businesses in the U.S. A top 50 website, with over 20 million unique monthly users and powering over 2 billion searches on over 1,500 sites including MSN and the United States Postal Service, WhitePages offers consumers one-click access to more than 200 million adults, or over 90% of the adult population. The company’s suite of mobile products includes a top-50 mobile website and popular iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry applications that have been downloaded more than 8 million times. WhitePages’ social buying website DealPop offers great deals on local businesses around the U.S., at up to 70 percent off retail prices.