The Gym Group & Okta – partners in strategy
The Gym Group has a unique business model with a contract-free, low cost approach that has enabled them to grow into a successful business with over 180 sites in the UK. Technology has been a key enabler of this, and facilitating that technology, has been Okta.
“Technology enables us to serve a high number of members to provide a fantastic gym experience through things like automated access control, online-only sales, and member sales serve” McIntosh explains. “Identity and access management is absolutely key to that.”
Okta has been a major part of this architecture and infrastructure. “Okta plays a key role in our technology stack, fundamentally improving our security model, and enabling more features around things like multi-factor authentication. It's got context-based policies around location-based awareness, and it's really key for health-first strategy based applications that can help us scale. As we continue to grow as a business this is crucially important.”
The Gym Group has multiple cloud applications and a workforce that’s spread out all over the UK with diverse skills. They therefore needed a solution that would be easy for staff to interact with, but also gave them all the functionality they required.
“When we were evaluating Okta, we were looking for something that would fit with a wide range of different authentication processes that were in our existing applications” McIntosh says. “We wanted to primarily provide an interface to our staff that was intuitive for them to pick up. It was really important that we had a level of reporting and understanding of how the tool was being used, where it was being used, and what our security profile was, so that we can bring new applications in confidently and understand how our staff are using them.”
With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic they had to quickly adapt processes, and Okta helped ease these changes. “We were able to rapidly bring in new applications, adopt our technology model for staff, and really get insight into how those platforms are being adopted, making that initial adoption as frictionless as possible” McIntosh explains.
“Okta’s absolutely helped us with that approach, automating a number of the identity access management features and access to applications that all our staff benefit from” Tinegate says. “With the features of Okta around automated lifecycle management, and licence provisioning, it's really helped remove those manual steps that are prone to error and reduce support calls, and also help staff on the ground and in the office be much more productive.”
Like so many other businesses, the Gym Group is looking forward to being fully operational once the pandemic is under control so they can get on with future plans. “We’re really excited to get back to the day job of delivering the gym experience to hundreds of thousands of members” McIntosh says. “Behind that initial re-enabling of the business, we're looking to grow both in terms of our core products, and also affiliated products and services that we can bring in. We see Okta having a major role to play in both of these strategies.”
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”