Secure Cloudlink enables enterprise-wide secure access to Office 365 across 22 offices across four continents reducing risk and cost through the elimination of passwordsAbout InstinctifWith 22 global offices, six based in the UK and a headcount of over 400 worldwide, Instinctif Partners, the international communications consultancy has seen consistent growth over the past decade.
Its latest reported figures show global turnover well in excess of £40m.
2014 saw the start of what was to be a pivotal time for the business, starting with it shedding its College Group name, associated with it since its formation in 1990 as financial PR firm Collage Hill.

The London HQ also moved from the Royal Mint Court to its current location in Gresham Street in the City of London in February 2014.
The aim of the rebrand was to unite the business under one name enabling it to go head to head with global competitors.
Instinctif has grown both organically and through a number of acquisitions, enabling the extension of its geographic reach into expanding markets such as Asia Pac and the Middle East, including China and Dubai.
Michael Plant, IT Director, stated: “Through the recent period of considerable growth our focus as a people business was to ensure the rapid integration of our people and the business itself. Rebranding was an essential first step in that journey, as we wanted to ensure all our talent felt that they were part of a global organisation.”
The ChallengeWhile the emphasis within the business focused on its people, there remained a highly disparate IT estate.

The siloed IT infrastructure was the direct result of the programme of acquisitions the business as a whole undertook as it grew. While people, brand and business processes were gradually brought under one umbrella, the IT infrastructure and applications that underpinned the business remained far from integrated.
“We are a people business. Not only is our greatest resource our own employees but we are a communications company and that inherently means that we are dealing with human beings.

The business recognised very early on that it needed to revolve around the needs of its staff and not the needs of IT and that has fundamentally driven our investment approach throughout the group,” stated Michael.
Instinctif embarked on a program of enterprise-wide systems reengineering to integrate the disparate IT systems throughout the group.

Critical to this process was the need to ensure that the group’s employees felt part of the same company, no matter where they were geographically based, and no matter what the legacy company was.
“The group had already taken the decision to look into the idea of a single sign on (SSO) solution for employees to access certain group-wide applications such as Office 365 and our email archive solution Mimecast, as well as our enterprise-wide intranet.

At the time we were working with Okta. We then began the process of rolling out a new hosted, Cloud based HR solution from UK vendor Octopus HR, which in turn had a long-standing relationship with another UK specialist security vendor, Secure Cloudlink Ltd.
“It made sense to focus on the global roll-out of an effective HR solution that bought together everything from payroll to timesheet management, expenses management and performance.

At the end of the day we needed a global solution to help us manage our global accounts because the value of our business resides in our people” continued Michael.
The Group had already settled on UK based Octopus HR, a flexible, secure and easy-to-use hosted online HR system.
Its core platform is a self-service hub from which additional modules operate such as payroll. Octopus HR in turn works with British cloud security software company SCL Ltd which has developed a three factor, SSO and biometric user authentication solution – Secure Cloudlink.
The SolutionSecure Cloudlink acts as a secure, centralised user authentication and application to manage all users access rights to all authorised applications without the need to create and manage internal domains. Unlike other solutions in the market, Secure Cloudlink does not store, send or replicate any user credentials outside of an organisations’ directory service.
“The IT department was faced with an interesting dilemma. While we retained the option to review Secure Cloudlink, it was clear the business wanted to migrate to Octopus at the earliest opportunity.

To be clear we needn’t have worried.”
Designed from the ground up with security in mind Secure Cloudlink’s Cloud Services Brokerage platform overcomes identity security issues associated with passwords by the inclusion of a unique and patented token passing technology.

This advanced authentication method requires no user credentials to be stored separately or outside of the directory service, therefore dramatically reducing the risk of a cyber breach and costs associated with password reminders.
Michael continued: “Our overwhelming objective for the business was to develop an intranet front end with a single portal to enable all employees to access all enterprise wide business systems including Office 365 and email.

The challenge for us was to roll this out across all 22 offices; something we believed could not be done with Okta. Our solution was to tie SSO and usernames together so that when a user types in their email address it authenticates via the Octopus HR system, validating them and granting them secure access to the corporate intranet via the portal.”
Secure Cloudlink is the only platform that anonymises user identities over the web for secure access to cloud services.
Its unique technology never requires access or stores user security credentials when connecting internal users, customers and suppliers to web-based applications.
With a secure single-sign-on Secure Cloudlink reduces IT service desk time managing multiple passwords by deploying users with a single, secure access point for access to their applications via their desktop, tablet or mobile.
The ResultToday the group IT function resides at Instinctif’s Gresham Street HQ.
It is solely responsible for IT infrastructure and software applications.
It is also home to the group HR function which is responsible for the onboarding and validation of new employees, as well as the decommissioning of email and passwords associated with former employees.
“We have witnessed high levels of user acceptance.

A single sign on solution has helped not only the HR and IT teams deliver an enhanced user experience, it has done so within a highly secure environment, something that is of paramount importance to our clients.

Given the fact that we operate in corporate reputation management, Secure Cloudlink has delivered for us a solution that reduces risk while at the same time has cut the costs associated with IT helpdesk queries over passwords,” continued Michael.
The Secure Cloudlink platform has also proven to be hugely flexible delivering bespoke solutions to support the in-house designers who were tasked with the development of the Intranet and portal in the first instance.
“The help we received from the SCL team as we developed this solutions was second to none. We genuinely believe that this was a working partnership, where we received support right from the implementation process, all the way through to the development of bespoke applications as we progressed, something we do not believe with hindsight we could have done with Okta,” added Michael.
“Security within the business is today not only strong but far easier to manage from the businesses perspective and the users! An enterprise wide portal accessed via SSO now drives all access to the corporate systems eliminating the risk and costs associated with managing passwords. HR – and the role it undertakes in terms of employee validation and security – now handles the authentication process. User acceptance is widespread and is key to our drive to becoming one company with one IT infrastructure, globally,” concluded Michael.
About Secure Cloudlink Ltd – no passwordsSecure Cloudlink Ltd is a UK based cloud security software company determined to make passwords obsolete.
Secure Cloudlink uniquely eliminates the security risks, administration costs, license abuse or user frustrations associated with issuing and maintaining passwords.
The patented token technology built into Secure Cloudlink does not transmit, store or replicate user credentials anywhere and supports third party multi-factor, biometric or single sign on (SSO) technology.
Our customers include government, SaaS providers, financial institutions and is applicable to any organisation needing to provides simple yet secure access to cloud and on-premise applications or services.
ContactsRob GaskinSecure Cloudlink LtdT: +44 (0)1372 888 660E: rob.gaskin@securecloudlink.comBeau Bass/Nick Bird (media enquires)SpreckleyTel: 0044 (0)207 388 9988Email: securecloudlink@spreckley.co.uk

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