Standard Bank, Africa's largest bank, has 1,300 branches and 9,300 ATMs across 20 countries on the African continent. Its 49,000 staff support 15.5 million customers, and the bank's total assets in the region amount to US$162 billion.
Gerdien Hay is Head of End-User Computing for the Standard Bank Group. As she explains, "My team is responsible for evaluating, deploying and managing IT products and services for the group. We are always looking at new ways of improving services and better meeting business requirements."
Gerdien and her team envisioned a more mobile workforce for Standard Bank and wanted to lay the appropriate IT groundwork to enable this. Plans were already in place to deploy a previous investment in desktop virtualisation (based on Citrix® XenDesktop® and Citrix XenApp®), increasing flexibility within the bank's call centres, and the bank had already issued smartphones and tablet devices to a small number of employees (where remote access was deemed essential). In reality, many more employees were accessing corporate information from personal devices: the number of users accessing corporate resources remotely had more than doubled over the previous two years. The team was keen to help more employees improve their personal productivity by creating a more mobile workspace, but maintaining the security of sensitive corporate information was of critical importance.
Working with the business, Gerdien's team determined that any enterprise mobility solution had to allow users to securely access data and applications from anywhere, on personal as well as company-owned devices. Importantly, it also had to allow email attachments to be saved locally and edited on the device.
Staff from all across Africa use Standard Bank's South African infrastructure for access to their data and applications. Any enterprise mobility solution had to work seamlessly with all existing infrastructure and be resilient on sub-standard networks that often included lines running at just 128k or even 64k bps. As Gerdien explains, "3G connectivity is patchy across the continent and just not reliable enough for business-critical applications. ADSL and broadband connections can also be slow and unreliable. The solution needed to be able to work effectively in this environment."
Gerdien and her team set a minimum requirement of mobile device management (MDM). They evaluated all of the relevant products featured in IT analyst firm Gartner's Magic Quadrant, assessing competitive features and ease of integration with the bank's existing infrastructure. The team quickly realised that simple MDM, although fundamentally important, was no longer adequate for their needs. Mobile application management (MAM) – enabling complete management, security and control over native mobile apps and associated data (across potentially poor-quality connections) – was also an important requirement in enabling secure personal productivity for bank staff. Gerdien explains, "Citrix offered the most mature solution that met our business needs. We already had a large Citrix infrastructure and it was a lot easier to integrate XenMobile with our existing technologies. We saw XenMobile as the solution to managing the growing BYOD reality within the bank."
Consequently, Standard Bank selected Citrix XenMobile Enterprise Edition, which includes MDM, MAM and file sync and sharing with Citrix ShareFile. The 10,000 XenMobile licenses provide secure access for mobile users to email and the bank's web applications, whilst also integrating with Standard Bank's existing XenDesktop/XenApp infrastructure to provide virtualised applications and desktops on mobile devices.
By combining MDM and MAM, XenMobile has not only secured the bank's business information used by remote workers across Africa, it has also provided a much improved user experience. Bank staff can now securely access email, intranet sites and a range of centrally managed line-of-business applications on any device (bank-owned or personal), even on sub-standard connections – improving their productivity. At the same time, should a device ever be lost or stolen, access to sensitive resources can be withdrawn instantly.
Mobile application management, along with ShareFile (which has become the bank's approved document sharing solution for mobile workers), has created a platform for effective mobile working.
"The business is now driving the uptake of mobile devices among the field sales force," explains Gerdien. "We have created a platform for the business to grab the opportunity of mobile. Using secure, enterprise-grade mobile apps, consultants across the continent can visit clients at their offices and have access to online product information, negating the need for paper catalogues. Standard Bank's customer engagement is more professional and our consultants can better meet their targets.
"With the help of Citrix, we will achieve our vision of enabling the business to leverage a mobile workforce."
The rollout of XenMobile will be complete within a couple of months, at which point employees will have access to secure mobile apps and email, regardless of their device. Gerdien's team is looking forward to rolling out dedicated mobile apps for internally used applications to further support mobile working.
Before the deployment of XenMobile, Standard Bank had used Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp mainly to provide secure access to sensitive data for contract and non-permanent workers (it is also the de facto standard for the bank's international offices outside of Africa). Looking ahead, Gerdien plans a wider rollout of XenDesktop to support new BYOD users, anticipating that its use will grow to around 8,000 licenses across the group within two years and, in turn, create a true software-defined workplace.
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