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Case Study

Multinational Advertising Company

Organisation Size

100,000+ employees

Country

Global

Summary

Multinational advertising company looks to bring its people closer together through technology.

To serve clients better by bringing businesses and people closer together.

A large multinational advertising and PR company wants its clients to have seamless access to the full range of services available from its constituent businesses. To support that aim, it’s co-locating businesses in new purpose-built shared offices, and working with Xalient to bring its people together through technology.

Technology transformation is underpinned by a unique company-wide user identity for every employee managed through the Okta platform.

Bringing its people closer together through technology.

A large multinational advertising and PR company wants its clients to have seamless access to the full range of services available from its constituent businesses. To support that aim, it’s co-locating businesses in new purpose-built shared offices, and working with Xalient to bring its people together through technology.

Transforming a federation into a close-knit entity

A long-running programme of acquisition has helped the company remain a leader in the rapidly evolving world of advertising and PR. By constantly bringing new skills and talent on board, the company has been a driving force in the industry’s ongoing development.

To deliver optimum value to its clients, collaboration across the group is a strategic imperative. But as is often the case when growth takes place through acquisition, the company and its employees must contend with IT and networking infrastructures that aren’t fully integrated. Even at recently opened shared offices, businesses have continued to run their own infrastructure, applications and cloud software tenancies; and employees have retained user IDs specific to whichever business they work for. So it’s proved difficult for people from different parts of the company to collaborate effectively and to share data, applications and other resources.

Fortunately, the group has the vision to transform its technology and resolve those issues by using the cloud as its IT infrastructure, shifting all of its networking to the internet, and giving each employee a unique company-level identity.

Identity: the starting point for transformation

The company initially met with Xalient to discuss the benefits of using software-defined networking (SD-WAN) in place of its legacy networking environment. Through a consultancy engagement, Xalient gained insight into the company’s business goals and its network-related ambitions in the context of its technology transformation strategy.

Based on those learnings — and given the need for urgent action — Xalient recommended solving the issue of employee identity before exploring SD-WAN, in order to:

  • Give the company easier and closer control over the applications and resources each user could access
  • Lay the groundwork for implementing a ‘zero trust’ network security model
  • Help the company to efficiently consolidate multiple Office 365 tenancies, which were proving a barrier to effective collaboration across businesses


With the support of the company’s CISO and CTO, Xalient switched its consultancy focus to how best to provide each employee with a unique company-level identity. Xalient proposed Okta’s identity and access management solution for its flexibility and its ability to manage each user’s identity access to any permitted application or resource, whether hosted in the cloud or in a data centre.

Gartner subsequently recognised Okta as a Leader in the ‘Magic Quadrant for Access Management, August 2019’ for the third year in a row, supporting Xalient’s recommendation of the platform for this multinational corporation.

Okta also allows all of the company’s Office 365 tenancies to be collapsed into one — delivering cost savings and facilitating cross-business collaboration The company had looked separately at creating a single Microsoft identity for each user but had been put off by the prospect of an expensive multi-year project to achieve that. Despite having the Microsoft licences, they realised there would still be a huge cost to deploying and managing the MS solution.

Xalient recommended solving the issue of employee identity first, to give the company closer control over the applications each user could access as quickly as possible, and lay the groundwork for implementing a ‘zero-trust’ network security model.

Consistent compliance made simpler

It took less than a month for Xalient to migrate all of the company’s user identities to the Okta platform — an impressive performance that helped to build trust in Xalient’s ability to deliver on their promise. Some user identities were duplicates, configured in the past to enable individuals to work across business boundaries. Using the Okta platform, Xalient ensured a single unique identity for each employee.

Now each user can access their authorised applications and resources, with no need for application-specific logins or IDs. Once a user logs on to their computer with their Okra-managed identity, a portal provides links to all the applications and resources they’re allowed to access.

From the company’s point of view, having all applications linked to a single identity source makes licensing compliance simpler and more consistent globally. Cost and risk are significantly reduced, as it’s easy to assign the correct application licences to new joiners’ identities; while deactivating a leaver’s identity automatically removes their application access. In addition, Okta allows all of the company’s Office 365 tenancies to be collapsed into one — delivering cost savings and facilitating cross-business collaboration.

Building for the future

Okta is federated to the company’s existing Active Directory services but, in the future, a global HR system will drive identity. This will automatically add users to the scalable Okta platform and provide their access rights based on their job roles. At that point, the company will be able to retire Active Directory and do away with the associated hardware and admin overhead.

Xalient continues working with the company on strategies to manage and secure its internet-based connectivity, and on architecting its campus networks and unified communications solutions. Xalient is also helping the company to develop its ‘zero trust’ networking strategy, for which the Okta-driven unique user identity solution will act as the foundational building block.

“We’ve deployed an identity and access management system for our multinational customer that helps break down barriers between their businesses, and underpins their wide-ranging technology transformation vision”

Sherry Vaswani

Founder & CEO

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Portrait of Mark Foulsham, Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

Mark Foulsham

Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

With a broad background as a COO/CIO/CDO, C-Suite Advisor, NED, Senior Transformation Leader and Coach, Mark tackles multiple fronts from the advantage of diverse experience in business operations, technology, procurement, delivery and risk. With a deep knowledge of business models from multiple sectors and extensive experience in fast-paced digital start-ups.

Mark’s work across extensive business types, functions and countries empowers him with experience to bear across silos. Mark has built a reputation for advocating cross-business collaboration, taking a pragmatic approach and championing transformative change.