From data center to 100% cloud: this New York-based retirement firm* partnered with iCorps in 2017 to begin their journey of total digital transformation. Through iCorps' Encompass program and expert consultants, they were able to prioritize compliance and collaboration, with an eye for growth in 2019 and beyond.
For years, this firm was wrangling with inefficient processes and a small, overworked team. Considering the breadth of their services—catering to Corporate, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, and Public Sector organizations—these pain points were becoming insurmountable. With new cybersecurity threats and correlating state legislation, they needed an internal organization far beyond grouping tasks in Word docs.
They hired an outside IT consultant who created a hybrid system, combining on-premise servers with outsourced storage via a data center. Unfortunately, the firm realized this had not been the best decision. The changes were implemented slowly, support was more reactive than proactive, communication faltered, and the transparency was lacking. As their Director of Technology recalls, "It was confusing. Things would come up and we'd have to seek [the consultant] out to get it fixed. They weren't monitoring, and it was difficult to get a hold of them sometimes." There were days when employees couldn't access their content, and the help desk was unreachable.
As their company expanded to three offices, they needed to meet new employee demands such as telecommuting and frequent client visits. Furthermore, New York was implementing updated cybersecurity laws, which required the firm to establish a more secure network. Sensing the need for change, they invited iCorps to their Wall Street headquarters.
With locations in New York, Massachusetts, and Kentucky, and a third of employees on the move, the firm needed to better support remote team members. Their previous platform—a remote desktop function—often failed, preventing employees from accessing files while off-site with clients. What they needed was a robust cloud solution. Their first project as an Encompass client was to migrate from the data center to Office 365. iCorps then set up a VPN, virtual private network, for employees, allowing them to easily access files remotely.
As an Encompass client, they received on-site help from our consultants on a weekly and monthly basis, with quarterly visits from an account manager. "Having the weekly and monthly updates with our iCorps consultants helps to give us more of an in-depth update, and our quarterly meetings with our account manager have been super helpful," their Director of Technology said. "[Our account manager] has made us a much better picture of what's actually happening and made it a lot easier for me to get answers for people internally. Before it was more of a surprise."
In March of 2017, the New York State Department of Financial Services rolled out 23 NYCRR 500, a sweeping cybersecurity regulation that all financial services institutions must comply with. The firm also operates within stringent compliance requirements outlined by the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Given that a large number of their clients are public and government institutions, they needed to accommodate differing security standards.
They became an Encompass client just as 23 NYCRR 500 went into effect. With new deadlines fast-approaching, our consultants created a defense-in-depth security infrastructure, with employee access permissions, and 24/7 network monitoring. With Managed Security they are "better able to confirm that we meet those [FINRA, SEC, 23 NYCRR 500] standards, and makes us more confident in helping [clients]."
Before Office 365, their project lists were stored in Word documents and emails, creating an over-reliance on search functions. Without an overarching structure, employees wasted precious time keeping track of daily workflows. Fortunately, our consultants were able to offer Microsoft Teams—Office 365's center for intra-organization collaborating. Teams members could work on and share projects in a central hub and integrate with platforms such as Planner.
Their employees were so pleased with Teams, they were able to retire their old and under-utilized project management software. This translated to a more cost effective and streamlined experience. They now have Teams sites for departments including IT, Marketing, Request for Proposal, and more. Now, with Teams, these groups have their own hubs for questions, answers and projects. As their Director of Technology notes, "I have an IT page that everyone has access to. They're able to review and post questions to the board, which is helpful. I had lists and calendars for myself, but now I can share them with other people, so I love it."
FURTHERING SUCCESS IN THE CLOUD
Following their migration to Office 365, the firm will be growing with their IT infrastructure, rather than playing catch-up. Their next phase will focus on cloud offerings such as Microsoft SharePoint, which would allow for on and off-site data access. They are also looking to update their mobile device infrastructure and will be implementing Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security with InTune. The combination of SharePoint and InTune will allow employees to access the data they need, wherever they are, across all device types.
*Name has been redacted for privacy