Smythson of Bond Street is a luxury British brand known for their handcrafted leather bags, accessories, notebooks, diaries, home accessories and stationery. This Case Study explains how Compete366 provided expert InTune advice to Smythson – Microsoft’s cloud-based Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) solution.
When Alex Oliveira joined as Head of IT at Smythson in early 2020, he aimed to replace old hardware (both servers and laptops) and upgrade everything to the latest version of Windows, implementing a standard set up for everyone. The aim was to provide a more structured and organised solution in order to better manage the IT environment. However, within two months of joining the company, the global Covid pandemic started. The team needed to be able to work from home, but without VPN access this initially proved very difficult. Alex needed to react quickly in order to keep business operations running smoothly.
After a discussion with Microsoft, Smythson decided to work with one of the recommended Microsoft Gold Partners, Compete366. As Alex explains “We were impressed with Compete366 from the outset. Before we even kicked off the project they helped us with licensing advice to get the right solution for our business. We knew they would be the right partner for us as they showed they were keen to help and guide us.”
Smythson decided to move to M365 Business Premium which would allow them to upgrade to Windows 10 and implement Microsoft InTune as part of the package.
Microsoft Intune is a cloud based Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) solution. In conjunction with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Intune can be used to manage all devices and applications, including Windows laptops, IoS devices, Macbooks and Android devices too.
The Mobile Application Management (MAM) in Intune protects an organisation’s data at the application level, including custom apps and store apps. App management can be used on organisation-owned devices, and personal devices.
Initially Compete366 helped with a step-by-step approach, as Smythson wanted to ensure that they had the right set up for every department. They built a standard desktop installation, which was initially piloted with IT and then tested with different departments, in order to check they had correct access to all of the business applications they needed.
The Covid Pandemic changed working patterns at Smythson, meaning that the Head Office team is now homeworking for the majority of the time, and the Head Office building has been reconfigured to allow for hot desking and meetings. This flexible way of working has been made so much easier using InTune which has standardised connections to the Wireless network via VPN.
InTune has saved time in IT, whilst also providing a better experience for employees, enabling them to work from wherever they are, and in collaboration with other team members. The team makes full use of the Microsoft capabilities such as Teams and OneDrive.
As Alex explains “Using InTune, we have been able to make access to our systems a more self-service experience, and reduce our users reliance on IT support. This allows us to focus on IT projects of strategic importance to the business.”
Compete366 also helped with the set-up of Autopilot – which automates the process of installing everything on the device. This means that individual users don’t need to run through the whole Windows10 setup process as this is automated to the standard set up that has been pre-defined by Smythson’s IT team.
All the user has to do is login with their Microsoft password and the rest of the device configuration, including access to the correct business applications, is done automatically. The solution has meant that as the company onboards new employees, they have been replacing old hardware with the new standard configuration. Even if the new team member is working from home, they can be sent their new PC and all the IT team needs to do is to provide them their user name and password, they login and it’s all done!
Now that this project is nearing completion, there are several new projects in the pipeline. As the business implements new business applications such as changing its ERP system, providing access to these can now all be managed centrally, and users will receive access to any new client software, rolled out through the standard user configuration in InTune.
And as Alex explains, “Using Microsoft InTune, we are able to keep all of our devices up to date and secure as we have automated the application of Microsoft patches.”
Working with Compete366
Alex explains “In a relatively small IT team it is important that we focus our efforts on the important things for the company. Compete366 never put any pressure on us, they worked to our timescales, understood the pressures of the Covid situation and repeated lockdowns on our business. Throughout they were a real partner for us and an integral part of building the solution.”
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“It’s great to work with the Compete366 team, the team members are really knowledgeable, helpful and responsive. No question is too difficult for them. They have really helped us to manage our Azure costs and ensure we have the right environment. When we bring a new customer on-board we can scale up immediately via the Azure portal and quickly make environments available to our customers.”
“We also find that there’s never a heavy sales pitch from them – they are technically focused and recommend what’s right for us.”
Paul Coyne, Rusada
“We had great support from the Compete366 AVD expert, who was really helpful, and guided me through options to tackle issues that arose.”
“The great thing about our AVD set up is that we have a custom set up for each project which Compete366 showed me how to do. And with the scalability and flexibility of AVD – we can meet clients’ expectations and get project users up and running more quickly.”
Amir Dangol, Senior IT Manager, Integrity
“We were immediately impressed with the advice that the Compete366 specialists in Azure Architecture were able to provide. This was all new to us and we really needed some external expertise that we could use to get our questions answered. The beauty of working with Compete366 is that we transferred our Azure consumption to them, and at the same time received all of their advice and guidance free of charge.”
Tim Entwistle, Head of Software Development, Herrco
“Working with Compete366 has been like extending our own team – they are extremely and easy to work with. Right from the outset, it was clear what was on offer – everything was presented to us in a straightforward and uncomplicated way. They also provided just the right level of challenge to our developers and saved us time and money by suggesting better ways to implement our infrastructure.”
Oliver Mackereth, Project Director, Hanse
“Compete366 were able to help us leverage some useful contacts in Microsoft. We really value the expert advice and guidance that they have offered us in setting up a highly scalable infrastructure. We are also setting in place a regular monthly meeting which will allow us to further refine our architecture and ensure we keep on track as our requirements grow and change.”
Matt Brocklehurst, Technical Director - AWOL Adventure
“I have been delighted with the migration, where my team worked very hard, supported by expert advice from Compete366, and achieved everything in the timescale we had set out. Compete 366 made sure that we didn’t make any expensive mistakes, and guided us through the process”