Helping M&C Saatchi Group's global network of offices to share their projects and ideas with frictionless access to its platforms

Marketing campaigns can change the world. Campaigns such as Better Health, delivered by M&C Saatchi for the UK National Health Service to promote healthy living for everyone, are driven by a deep understanding of people's beliefs and motivations. To deliver these change-making campaigns for businesses and brands internationally, M&C Saatchi Group has built a diverse network of agencies that's global, flexible, and entrepreneur-driven. Sharing ideas and best practices is key to this vision, and that's what our new internal platform, secured by Okta, is enabling our colleagues to do.

Across its network of offices, M&C Saatchi Group has expertise in multiple areas including strategic analytics, brand experience and design, and customer research. We are able to bring together agile teams with knowledge tailored to our clients' specific needs. But this approach also presents a challenge.  Each part of the group operates independently. How do you enable employees in London to share insights with their colleagues in New York or Sydney?

I joined M&C Saatchi Group back in March 2017, having spent more than 20 years of my career working in technology and information security. My belief is that we can use technology to fix business problems, so in late 2019, we decided to build an internal platform that employees from across the group could connect to securely. The goal of &i (aka ANDI, pronounced 'and-ee') was to enable our people to showcase their work and share expertise about their particular markets, as well as reinforce our core principles across the group.

That's where Okta comes in. To make &i possible, we needed a technology partner that could not only provide the IDM services we required, such as full Lifecycle Management for our workforce identities, but that could also offer solid security, and good implementation support. We chose Okta because of the range of integrations it offers, particularly in supporting OpenID Connect and SAML authentication, and the wealth of guidance provided by the Okta customer services team.

We had to connect offices specialising in a wide range of different marketing disciplines, located in 23 countries across 5 continents.  Those offices also use a range of different technologies and systems including multiple Microsoft Windows Active Directories and Google Workspace environments. By leveraging IT teams from our offices in London, New York, and Sydney, we were able to rapidly implement Okta, creating a Universal Directory to enable access to &i within just 3 months.

To help us with the adoption of the new portal, we created &i champions from across our network to promote the uptake of &i within each of our global offices. This proved a very effective strategy to encourage people to adopt the new services.

Beyond our initial project goals of networking and sharing ideas, implementing Okta created an opportunity to accelerate our cloud migration strategy. We're now able to provide secure access to a range of cloud-based applications that is consistent across the group. Thanks to Single Sign-On, employees have access to all our tools and services from a single location, secured using Multi-Factor Authentication and the Okta Verify MFA application. We can easily manage their identities using Lifecycle Management.

Employees are now able to use 90 applications integrated with Okta, including Google Workspace, finance management tools, video-conferencing tools, and other vital business applications. Effectively, it's a comprehensive suite of business tools that's easy to access from any geographical location. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, it's supported employees in making the switch to remote working, and it's been incredibly useful to have a secure space for our offices to share stories on how they've successfully navigated the pandemic.

We've now created a new team to help us accelerate the integration of business applications with Okta. When we consider implementing any new services, we first look at the Okta Integration Network and ask ourselves one fundamental question: will it work with Okta? If not, we work out a way to deliver seamless access using API Access Management.

For anyone starting out on their Okta journey, my top tip is to develop a strong relationship with your Okta Customer Services Manager (CSM). They're a brilliant resource to guide and support you, and their Quarterly Business Reviews are a great space to discuss progress, uptake, and how you can further improve your usage of Okta products. Working with Okta means entering into a real partnership, and our CSMs are continuing to support us as we introduce more automation using Okta Workflows to reduce friction, and make more and more cloud applications available for our offices worldwide.