For Bechtle, keeping its edge means more than ever to be in the vanguard of the digital transformation. “We want to drive our customers’ future with tailored IT solutions that connect to our digital tomorrow,” says Ulrich Baisch, CIO of Bechtle AG. “This means we also need a work environment that embraces innovation and really supports agile processes. In practical terms, it means we have to enable new ways to collaborate, optimally connect teams across sites, and simplify access to all required information, tools and applications.”
Against this backdrop, Bechtle wanted to realise a digital workplace concept for the entire group. The minds behind the Bechtle Corporate Workspace set out to develop a strategy in tune with the Bechtle ecosystem, and in particular its dispersed organisation.
Bechtle has locations across Europe, and the group’s various IT system houses and e-commerce units are the first face to the customer in their respective region. They all tap into the highly specialised expertise of over 70 dedicated Competence Centres to tackle a great variety of complex IT projects. Dubbed “connected dispersion”, this organisation is one of the cornerstones of Bechtle’s success, and the new workspace strategy needed to reflect this at its core, with a unified approach that allows the individual units leeway in designing a work environment that takes account of their unique requirements.
“Naturally, we had the future development of our business in mind when we sat down to plan the Bechtle Corporate Workspace,” says Pascal Zeindler, Bechtle’s Head of Workspace & Frontend Management. “Bechtle has been on an upward trajectory since its inception in 1983, and the number of employees is growing all the time—be it through acquisitions or normal recruiting activities—so speedy onboarding is a priority.” What’s more, the new Corporate Workspace needed to make it easy for new services to be added as and when required.
As the Bechtle Corporate Workspace began taking shape, the project team zoomed in on the real-life needs of the employees. “Keeping an ear to the ground from the get-go was critical,” says Pascal Zeindler. “We interviewed employees at numerous locations and from a variety of departments to learn how we can make their work experience better. Because only when we really understand their needs can we make a positive difference.”
With all this information analysed, the team went on to turn strategy into reality, building the new Bechtle Corporate Workspace on a Citrix Workspace foundation. Ulrich Baisch: “This integrated solution has all the components we need to efficiently and securely deploy our digital workplaces, and without the limitations of a one-size-fits-all model. We are able to mix and match components to optimally meet the operational and technical needs of each user.”
Today, Bechtle relies on Citrix Workspace to give users access to their virtual Windows desktops and a great number of applications, no matter where they are, no matter their device. Cloud services, web apps and traditional desktop applications are all integrated into a single work environment. In addition to working with all their familiar business tools, users are able to share and collaborate on documents with Citrix Content Collaboration, enabling much more efficient and agile workflows. Mobile apps and devices are now also managed via Citrix. The endpoint management solution built into Citrix Workspace handles some 6,000 smartphones and tablets used in the company with a great level of automation.
Bechtle has been working with Citrix Consulting to plan the Bechtle Corporate Workspace rollout, and it’s all very much on schedule. So far, more than 8,500 employees are already using at least one of the available services, and their feedback has been positive across the board, praising especially the added flexibility and attached freedoms: “I’ve long since cut the tethers to my desk in the office,” says Mandy Adam, Software Licence Specialist with Bechtle-Comsoft. “I frequently use my laptop or tablet to work from home or on the road and access all my data and applications.”
For CIO Ulrich Baisch, the key to great user acceptance is great usability: “We’ve always strived to keep our solution simple for users. When we designed the Bechtle Corporate Workspace, we aimed to minimise distracting elements and focus on the bare essentials. We ditched the things that 95% of our users simply don’t need. The distinct requirements of the remaining 5% are covered with custom solutions.”
Security has been embedded flush with the work surface to ensure minimal disruption to employee productivity. For instance, employees are free to use many of their business applications on their personal smartphones and tablets. The apps are placed in secure containers on the devices and all communication with Bechtle’s data centres is encrypted. Citrix’ single-sign-on functionality makes it easy for users to access different services without the hassle of multiple accounts and passwords.
Bechtle has also left no room for clutter in managing its digital workplaces. Core components of the Bechtle Corporate Workspace are run by Citrix within the Citrix Cloud, including the virtual desktop delivery controllers and mobile device management systems. This takes the weight of ongoing management and updating off the shoulders of Bechtle’s IT staff.
“Unified, cloud-first management frees up a lot of time in our day-to-day operations,” says Marco Zimmermann, an IT systems engineer for Bechtle. “Many of the recurring processes, such as in mobile device and app management, are fully automated. This means, for instance, that users can simply onboard a new smartphone themselves. And we’re also able to quickly make new services available to all employees.”
The Bechtle Corporate Workspace rests on an infrastructure that is readily scalable. For the time being, most applications and data are hosted in Bechtle’s own data centres, but workloads can be shifted into the public cloud at any time. With its flexible architecture, Citrix Workspace can support any hybrid deployment model. “Our new strategy has really put us on the fast track”, concludes Ulrich Baisch. “This is an advantage for example when we open a new location or when we integrate a new subsidiary. With the Bechtle Corporate Workspace, new employees have instant access to all centralised applications. This is dispersion, truly connected.”
Leiter Workspace & Frontend Management
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Published on Apr 2, 2020.