Mitigating lost productivity with technology for remote work

Citrix Workspace is driving the digital transformation at HDI Seguros Brazil with an intelligent cloud-based platform for the digital workplace.

Gilliard Delmiro, CTO, HDI

Skyscrapers as far as the eye can see, a twinkling skyline that deceives an endless nightlife, a colorful cultural diversity and the largest helicopter fleet in the world characterize the unique city of São Paulo in Brazil.

With 20 million inhabitants and the ranking of the largest city in South America, Paulistanos pay massive traffic jams to work in this world-class metropolis, which some avoid with helicopters. Traffic chaos usually takes up three hours of the working day of an average employee.

For HDI, an international insurance company with headquarters in Frankfurt and one of its main branches in Sao Paulo and with more than 60 branches in every Brazilian state, commuting time was a productivity killer.

Gilliard Delmiro, CTO, HDI said, “We started with Citrix a few years ago, with a VDI solution accessed through VPNs. As our business grew, we had some concerns about the safety of our environment and its performance.

“To better enable remote work and improve the performance of our fast-growing home workers, we would have had to make significant investments in servers to have more virtual machines.”

“Citrix experts presented us with an alternative: the implementation of a cloud-based Citrix Workspace platform in the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This would be easy to manage and would allow us to be more scalable. We would be able to control every screen that any other type of business person uses during the day. There were many potential benefits, ”said Delmiro.

Based on previous experience with Citrix, the team did not submit to any bidding process. Delmiro and his staff simply bought the Citrix solution and planned and implemented the implementation.

“For a company looking for a solution that remote workers can adopt, there are many benefits to this solution. With Citrix, you don’t have to worry about cryptography – there is no need to use encryption keys or write additional code as data and information is stored in the cloud, ”explains Delmiro.

“With Citrix Workspace, we get financial benefits. We didn’t buy any hardware to support more virtual machines as the solution is cloud based. The built-in security measures are particularly impressive. In addition, Citrix Cloud has provided us with a management level that makes it easier to manage our entire digital environment. “

VPN-less access offers additional security for remote work

When the HDI team planned the transition to a cloud-based platform for the digital workplace, they realized that there would be a catch if the number of remote workers increased. More remote workers mean more and different types of devices, and that means more risk. Using VPN technology for access control would increase this risk.

Traditional VPNs are difficult to manage. They are not designed for corporate environments as they do not allow access beyond the boundaries of the corporate network. They don’t scale well either.

There’s more: VPNs tend to drop sessions or corrupt data. The state of the VPN connection sometimes depends on the connection end users have at their remote locations. With a VPN, it is very difficult to identify and diagnose poor connectivity.

In Brazil, legal regulations also play a role in introducing stricter access control. Brazil’s Basic Data Protection Act (LGPD), similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is now in force. The LGPD applies to the processing of personal data in the following cases: if this data is processed in Brazil, if the purpose of the processing is to offer or provide goods or services to residents of Brazil, or if the personal data processed is located in Brazil, or was collected in Brazil. The LGPD includes all the legal bases for processing listed under the GDPR.

“The strict requirements of the LGPD, Brazil’s equivalent to the GDPR, were a major consideration for HDI. The VPN access would have created security gaps. Our entire network would be exposed to attacks such as DDoS, spoofing, sniffing and malicious software – threats that VPNs fail to detect, ”said Delmiro.

While return on investment (ROI) is a strong indicator of the success of any implementation, it is difficult for HDI to attribute any value to avoiding security breaches. It’s just as difficult to monetize a great employee experience.

Suffice it to say that VPN-less access with Citrix has added great value to improve the employee experience and make our environment much more secure, “said Delmiro.

SSO was crucial

Secure single sign-on (SSO) and seamless access to SaaS and web applications were critical for remote workers. For IT, access had to be easy to configure and manage.

“Authenticating with Citrix SSO enables users to access a wide variety of web, local, and cloud apps with one set of credentials. It’s easy to give remote workers a better user experience – they don’t have to remember multiple passwords.

“Our IT team now has better control over user access, reduced password-related help desk calls, and improved overall security and the company’s ability to comply,” said Delmiro.

“The traffic congestion in Sao Paulo and the desire for more employees to work from home started HDI Citrix’s journey and led the company to turn away from VPNs. The coronavirus pandemic and the night-time transition to home work have speeded things up

“All of this brought HDI to Citrix Workspace for VPNless access and single sign-on (SSO) for internally deployed web applications and apps deployed as SaaS. The combination of VPN-less access and SSO increases the productivity of remote users and reduces security risks, ”said Delmiro.

“We believe our decision was the right one. We had no outages during the transition to the pandemic; We have achieved an efficiency of 100%. If we had continued with VPNs, our environment would have been affected, especially in the cities far from Sao Paolo, ”added Delmiro.

Unmanaged devices added another wrinkle

The HDI team launched its Citrix Workspace and SSO projects before the global coronavirus pandemic broke out. When the government made forced laborers work from home only, another problem arose: many had to use their own equipment.

“With Citrix Workspace and VPN-less access, the team can now easily manage employee activities on personal devices as everything is cloud-based. Citrix Workspace provides security controls such as browser isolation that allow employees to use their personal devices to securely access their apps. This would not have been possible with a conventional VPN solution, ”said the CTO.

Citrix Workspace makes onboarding easy

“Now onboarding new employees is also quick and easy. We already have the profile, the applications and the authorizations based on the job function of a new employee, ”says Delmiro. Finally, the team plans to make the process more granular by developing a set of images for automated deployment.

“Each business area in the company will have a specific onboarding profile that is tied to the respective business areas. To make the environment and customer data even more secure, controls such as watermarks and copy / paste controls will also be added to the security arsenal in a few months. “

Intelligent functions in Workspace increase productivity

In addition to better security and analysis, the Citrix Workspace solution offers even more advantages for increasing productivity.

“During the day we work on a lot of different systems, some of which are legacy systems. The intelligence in Citrix Workspace is groundbreaking, ”said Delmiro.

“Microapps and notifications allow us to carry out actions much faster. For example, we can eliminate screens from the desktop that employees are not using. This removes clutter and makes it easier to make important decisions during the day. “

“The directors of HDI will currently use the intelligent capabilities of Citrix Workspace to integrate relevant data from Microsoft Power BI into the dashboard of the Workspace app. Our directors can see the business analysis results that HDI teams achieved today, or they can learn about the goals we set or see how many claims were received that day, ”said the CTO.

Future of work

“We found a way to increase productivity and provide a better employee experience. We made remote work safer. We used analytics to better serve users. And with the intelligence of Citrix Workspace, we have reduced the noise in the modern work environment so that employees can optimize their work processes. We are well on the way to improving productivity and employee satisfaction in the future too, ”concluded Delmiro.

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