Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Itergy from Mississauga, Ontario

Describe the solution or service provided
Itergy uses a thought leadership approach to help organizations manage Identity and Access through Microsoft solutions. Nowhere is this felt more profoundly than in education. Itergy has a long history of lighting up strategic technology solutions for our education clients. With our experience and expertise, Itergy empowers our clients to maximize their Microsoft technologies and investments that define strategic roadmaps – facilitating 21st Century Learning. For a particular school board client, Itergy built a repeatable solution that automated hundreds of processes, immediately saving thousands of dollars. Moreover, this allowed IT to focus on rolling out better programs and technologies to help students learn, staff teach and parents collaborate. Itergy integrated Forefront Identity Manager into the board’s SIS – Student Information System. We designed a solution that takes the user information from the SIS and populates Active Directory leveraging FIM. This means that group membership and access control is always up to date. This also included seamless connections to their back-office HR systems as well as delivering a customized and re-usable management pack for their Office 365 environment Itergy has now enabled full automation of virtually every activity and milestone that commonly occurs throughout the life-cycle of a student, staff member and parent that saves hundreds of hours of IT support time.

What makes this solution original and innovative?
Education is facing increasing demands with fewer resources and decreasing budgets. With budgets shrinking, the challenge is how to deliver more with less. Security and privacy are of huge concern to educators due to the fact that minors are accessing content over the internet and using their networks to collaborate. One of the challenges facing IT departments today is to lower costs and leverage innovation. IT departments within the education sector tend to have high costs associated with password reset. How does IT reduce or eliminate the manual and time-consuming tasks of running a school district to focus on higher value activities and innovation? At the same time, how does it reduce risk by ensuring credentials are always accurate and up-to-date no matter what the scenario? Let’s take a look at password re-set for a moment. IT estimates that each password reset costs approximately $50. The average school district in Canada manages between 2,000 (mid-sized) to 7,000 (large) requests a year. That represents a potential cost savings of $100,000 to $350,000 annually. Now everything that happens around a student (or other stakeholder) is immediately reflected across systems without the need to have an IT employee manually enter the information for every occasion. This frees up time on the IT departments side to better plan and prepare for improved learning methods and technology. Originality comes into play as spending time with the client envisioning, planning and meticulously mapping out every possible use case scenario that occurs during a school year for faculty, parents and students, Itergy was able to design hundreds of use cases and applied them for process automation. This automation was done to fit the exact business needs for their School Board client to ensure there was a call of action for each unique case the system would potentially be presented with in the future. This demonstrates a considerable representation of originality and innovativeness.

What were the benefits to the customer’s sales, revenues, and/or efficiency? Provide measurable evidence.
This particular School Board client is similar to many of our School Districts here in Canada and abroad. Funded by the government, their source for operating capital is driven by the number of students who attend their schools. Faced with declining enrolments they are seeing their funding reduced year over year. At the same time, IT is continually being pressured to do more. The following statistics summarizes the challenges and experiences that the client (and others) have been reacting to over the past five years. The client has seen the student population decline from 22,000 students to 18,000 students. This directly impacts how much money they receive to manage the business of education. The client has been forced to reduce their IT staff from 31 down to 27 due to budget cuts. The client has also gone from supporting 3,200 devices to 7,000 devices (and that doesn’t include student, parent, teacher and staff owned BYOD devices). What those numbers tell us is that while operational budgets are shrinking the need and demand for services and support are skyrocketing. Adding to that is the focus to drive 21st century learning. The bulk of IT budgets in education today is consumed by “treading water”, just keeping the current systems running, rather than adding new innovation. Itergy works across teams at Microsoft, helping IT education clients change that paradigm. The client conservatively estimates that Itergy has helped them to save $60 000.00 with one of the many benefits of Itergy’s Identity and Access Solution – Self-Service Password Reset. Additionally, Itergy has also provided process automation, reduced risks, established governance and ensured compliance across schools located throughout a sprawling rural and urban geography in western Ontario.

How did your organization achieve customer satisfaction and how was this demonstrated by the customer?
The client was very pleased with Itergy’s services as we were able to deliver a solution that met and exceeded their business requirements. The following is a testimonial from CIO describes how Itergy provided exemplary services: Itergy’s strategic guidance, technical expertise and strong business acumen has allowed us to tell a phenomenal story at our School Board. The multitude of use cases they developed and embedded into our Microsoft virtualized platform, using Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager, means we have fully automated the management of students, staff, parents and administrators within the complex guidelines our school board’s demands for privacy, security and accessibility. Drawing from Itergy’s deep experience in Education and solution expertise across Microsoft technologies, specifically Identity and Access Management, has had a significant impact on reducing costs. Our School Board is now saving 30% in resource and time management through the automation of user provisioning. Moreover, Itergy’s enablement of Self-Service Password has provided us with a cost savings of $60,000.00 by providing users the ability to self-service their passwords. What this means is that we can focus much more on strategic innovation that better serves our teaching professionals and students – driving 21st Century Learning.” 

Describe the benefits of this solution to your organization in terms of new skills, certifications, products, and services.
The solution Itergy created for the School Board client was one that was custom designed made to fit particular and unique business goals and requirements. The process to do this was one which is very valuable to Itergy as a company and its employees in terms of building new skills. Itergy developed several use cases which govern the life cycle of a student, faculty member, employee and parents. There was a vast amount of training involved to build the knowledge to take upon a custom task. This allowed us to further educate our employees as to promote ongoing learning and remain up to date with the latest technology trends. Additionally, this project in particular allowed Itergy to expand their portfolio and have a more experienced approach to similar projects which may arrive in the future. As the use cases are quite similar within every School Board, Itergy will be able to reuse the cases when working on other education projects in this area of interest.

How did the solution improve your customer’s ability to serve its internal and external clients?
The System Center Configuration Manager – Customer Developed FIM Management Pack for Office 365, has improved the client’s ability to better leverage their IT staff. By transforming the workflow required to process requests for student logins to an automated system, the client is able to allow their IT staff and other resources to make better use of their time and work towards creating an improved learning environment. Additionally, students and staff are better served as they receive access in a timely manner to areas within the system which are required to better perform their daily tasks. For example, if a student is registered in the school, registration itself will automatically process the student’s access to classes, discussion boards, lesson plans etc. This allows the student to have resources available instantly which in turn facilitates 21st century learning.

How does the solution or service go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?
The custom designed and developed solution Itergy provided the client goes above and beyond industry norms and expectations as Itergy developed several use cases to map out every unique encounter the system will be presented with. This was done to ensure accuracy and completeness of the system, as to not defeat the purpose of inputting such a system by asking IT staff for assistance. Additionally, several school boards across Canada do not have an automated system in place and thus are having to use additional resources and time to manually enter information for each event a stakeholder is involved in. Overall, deploying an automated infrastructure allows the school board to focus on strategic innovation which serves as a benefit for not only teaching professionals but also students and in turn satisfying parents as their children are educated in a 21st century learning.

How does the solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?
A “green” or “environmentally friendly” business aims to have a positive impact not only the environment but community as well. This in turn demonstrates the company’s commitment and obligation to promoting a sustainable and healthy present and future. Every organization has a community wellness plan. Aside from keeping a clean outdoor community area, our School Board client strives to reduce their carbon footprint. By having a cloud infrastructure solution in place, the client can reduce approximately 30-90% of their carbon emissions (Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud, Published November 2010). Additionally, another key driver that will assist in reducing the carbon footprint is ensuring companies have an improved and efficient data center in place. The cloud benefits of an “industrialized data center design at scale and optimized for power efficiency reduces power wasted on cooling, UPS etc. and allows running servers at optimal utilization and temperature (Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud, Published November 2010).” By having less infrastructure on premises (cloud computing) reduces the amount of physical storage a data centre requires, decreases the carbon footprint and lowers operating expenditures as well as capital expenditures.

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