Cloud-Based Apps Boost Productivity and Efficiency

By George Hegedus

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Rosetta Stone uses cloud-based tools, including identity management, to help employees be productive and the IT team become a strategic partner to the business.

My boss always asks me if I’m having fun. I get a kick out of it, since historically “fun” and “enterprise services” don’t really go together. But when I think about it, it’s clear that I’m working in a radical, innovative time for IT and enterprise services, and, luckily, I work at a company that’s empowered me to do some pretty innovative things in that space.

It’s obvious to us at Rosetta Stone (and probably to anyone involved in some form of technology) that the cloud is here to stay. Proliferation of mobile devices, increased focus on user experience and a wider range of niche applications for every possible user need has led many companies to shift part—or all—of their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

The benefits of this move are tangible. With cloud solutions, businesses can deploy projects more quickly, reduce on-premise maintenance costs significantly and utilize resources by scaling tech resources up and down when as needed. Shifting to the cloud also benefits end users, resulting in widespread user access and increased productivity.

With the advantages of moving infrastructure to the cloud for both IT and users so clear, the question is not “Should we adopt cloud technologies?” It’s “Which cloud technologies will be most effective for our business?”

At Rosetta Stone, we’ve found some cloud-based tools and solutions that play key roles in helping us. We use Box storage for collaboration, Workday for HR management, and Google apps for email and calendars. This has enabled us to leapfrog from an aging (10+ years) on-premises infrastructure directly to the cloud.

However, the solution that’s most important as we’ve shifted our infrastructure is our identity management layer. By integrating Okta’s identity management solution into our IT infrastructure, we’ve enabled our employees to be productive wherever they need to do their work. We’ve also made our IT team more efficient and transformed them from being troubleshooting gatekeepers to being trusted, strategic partners for our business.

Enabling Productive Employees

As any IT person can tell you, mobility has grown exponentially over the past few years—and it’s here to stay. With the ability to work while traveling, at home and on the go, our employees find it much easier to access the tools and resources they need to be productive by using cloud applications.

The ability to work from any browser or device is great for productivity, but for users, it also means having multiple applications to sign into (and multiple passwords to remember) when they want to do work. That presents issues for the IT team as well, who have to spend more time provisioning and deprovisioning accounts for employees as they join and leave the company. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the challenges both IT and users face when integrating new applications and people from outside the company.

With Okta unifying and securing our IT infrastructure, our employees have the ability to access all their apps from one portal simply and securely wherever they happen to be working. Also, our IT department’s lengthy onboarding processes have become almost instantaneous, as they now easily provision new accounts to get users into Box, Google and Workday right away, making them instantly productive.

Empowering Efficient IT

Members of the operations team always want to improve systems, but they often spend a lot of time fighting fires. Whether helping a user access an application, troubleshooting bugs or responding to hundreds of password reset tickets a day, solving user problems had been a time-consuming activity for our IT team—and a barrier to getting our other work done on time.

Migrating to the cloud did eliminate many of our IT frustrations, improving reliability and uptime so we could spend less time managing systems and more time supporting users. But because we had specific applications to fill a variety of needs, that also meant we needed to manage authentication to secure our company data in the cloud—and it had to be done in a way that was easy for our users. Password reset tickets seem like a small thing, but when your No. 1 IT call driver is managing employee passwords, your time is not being spent as wisely as it could be.

Implementing the identity management layer across our systems enabled us to connect all of our people with their applications and devices through one unified login. That helps users be productive quickly and lets us focus on other pieces of IT. Immediately, password resets dropped to our No. 5 call driver—and we’re now able to use the freed-up time to help our users in other ways.

Building Trust as a Business Partner

Building a productive IT department and infrastructure doesn’t require simply making processes more efficient. It involves creating a structure in which technology and the people behind it are trusted, strategic business partners.

As we shifted our infrastructure to the cloud, we found products and systems already created to fill specific needs. Because these products were from independent vendors, we no longer had to focus on developing and managing complex internal systems. But what made the system work easily and securely was integrating Okta into the structure to connect these systems. With it, we can readily adopt and use new apps so our employees can be up and running quickly.

The ability to integrate new features easily has had a direct impact on our relationship with our employees and our business more broadly. Our employees ask for the tools they need, and we’re able to quickly add them to our systems with the help of Okta and the app vendor.

As a result, when we say we’re rolling out something new, we do it on schedule, which builds trust for IT across the company. It also raises IT’s value, since it leads to increased adoption of—and improved results from—the strategic tools we’re integrating.

So, back to the original question: Am I having fun? It’s been a crazy busy year, but we’re getting a lot done at Rosetta. With identity as the backbone of our IT infrastructure, we’re empowering our employees to be more productive wherever and whenever they need to work, and we’re transforming IT into a trusted partner for our business.

So, boss, the answer is: “Yes.”

About the Author

George Hegedus is senior director of system operations at Rosetta Stone. He has 20-plus years’ experience in operations, business development, M&A technology integration, international help desk operations, technology integration in facilities projects, customer service, CRM, IT marketing and project/program management.

Article source: http://www.baselinemag.com/cloud-computing/cloud-based-apps-boost-productivity-and-efficiency.html/

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