Bechtle AG has over 75 IT system retailers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is one of Europe’s premier IT businesses with e-commerce companies in 14 countries. Founded in 1983, the Neckarsulm-based corporation has around 11,500 employees. With more than 70,000 customers in the manufacturing, commercial, public and financial sectors, Bechtle offers a wide range of IT infrastructure and IT operations services from a single source.
Now more than ever, Bechtle’s business success depends on being a barometer of digital change. “We like to think of ourselves as the IT partners of the future for our customers and we work with them to create solutions for the digital world of tomorrow,” says Ulrich Baisch, CIO of Bechtle AG. “That’s why we also need an internal workspace that drives innovation and promotes agile processes. In concrete terms that means facilitating new modes of cooperation, improving networking between teams across sites and simplifying access to all the necessary information, tools and applications.”
Networked decentralisation as the success factor
With this in mind, Bechtle set its sights on implementing a digital workplace concept for the entire group: the Bechtle Corporate Workspace. The IT company’s unique requirements had to be considered from the outset when developing the strategy, above all its decentralised organisational structure.
Bechtle AG is present throughout Europe—the individual retailers and trading companies are the first point of contact for customers in the corresponding regions. Across all the different locations, more than 70 competence centers provide specialist knowledge on countless technically challenging topics. This “networked decentralisation” is one of the key factors behind Bechtle’s success. The new workspace strategy needed to bear this structure in mind: standardising where possible while still giving individual operational units some leeway in designing their own work environments.
“When planning the Bechtle Corporate Workspace, we obviously kept an eye on future business development,” says Pascal Zeindler, Director of Workspace & Front-End Management at Bechtle. “Our company has been growing since its inception in 1983 and recruiting and acquisitions bring in countless new employees every year. It goes without saying that fast onboarding processes are a top priority for us.” The new Corporate Workspace should also make it easy to add new services at any time.
Improve employee experience by listening
When designing the Bechtle Corporate Workspace, the project team zoomed in on employees and their needs: “It was imperative to involve users from the word go,” says Pascal Zeindler. “We interviewed employees in different departments and from a handful of locations and asked them: How can we help you work better? We can really only improve the employee experience for our staff if we get a feel for the user perspective.”
The project team then set about implementing a new strategy based on the results of these analyses. The company opted for Citrix Workspace as the technological foundation for the new Corporate Workspace. The Citrix solution gives us all the components we need to supply our digital workspaces efficiently and securely,” points out Bechtle CIO Ulrich Baisch. “We’re not sold on a “one size fits all” approach. We’d much rather marry up the most appropriate economic and technical solutions for our users depending on their requirements."
Today, Bechtle uses Citrix Workspace so that its users can access virtual Windows desktops and a wealth of other applications, no matter their location or end device. It integrates cloud services, web tools and classic Windows applications in a digital work environment. Users don’t just have access to all business applications - they can also use Citrix Content Collaboration to share and jointly edit documents with other people. This opens up completely new opportunities for more efficient and more agile digital workflows. Today, Bechtle also uses Citrix to manage mobile apps and end devices. Bechtle currently manages around 6,000 smartphones and tablets throughout the company thanks to the Citrix integrated Endpoint Management solution. What’s more, it’s almost entirely automated!
Workspace design: keep it simple
The Bechtle Corporate Workspace rollout was planned with the support of Citrix Consulting; so far, everything has fallen perfectly into place. More than 8,500 employees are already using at least one of the services provided and user feedback has been positive across the board. What they value the most are the flexible usage options and the sense of freedom these bring: “My work station is no longer tied to a desk in an office,” explains Mandy Adam, Software License Specialist at Bechtle-Comsoft. “I can also access all of my applications and data when I’m out and about or at home from my laptop or tablet.”
For CIO Ulrich Baisch, the key to high user acceptance is the solution’s easy operability: “We always stuck to the motto “Keep it simple”. When designing the Bechtle Corporate Workspace, we tried to minimise possible distractions and hone in on the essentials. The upshot? Get rid of things that are irrelevant to 95 percent of users. We then make up for the requirements of the remaining five percent with individual solutions.”
Safety functions have been integrated into the work environment with the lowest possible impact on user productivity. For example, employees are given the option of using many business applications on private mobile devices. They run in protected containers and have encrypted communication with the systems in the data centre. Citrix’ single sign-on function makes it easier to access different services since users only have to authenticate themselves once.
Citrix Cloud relieves the CIO organisation
Bechtle has also simplified the management of its digital workspaces. Core components of the Bechtle Corporate Workspace, like the delivery controller for virtual desktops or systems for mobile device management, are operated and managed by Citrix on the Citrix Cloud. As a result, Bechtle’s CIO organisation doesn’t have to bother with the ongoing maintenance and updating of these components.
“Standardisation and cloud-based management save us so much time in everyday life,” says Marco Zimmermann, IT System Engineer at Bechtle. “Lots of processes like mobile app and device management are automated now. For example, users can easily start up a new smartphone using self-service. Beyond that, we can make new services accessible to all employees very quickly.”
The infrastructure for Bechtle Corporate Workspace can be easily scaled up as required. Most applications and data are still running in Bechtle’s own data centres at the moment but the IT service provider could move workloads to the public cloud at any time. With its flexible architecture, Citrix Workspace supports any hybrid deployment model. “We’ve picked up the pace quite a bit with our new strategy,” outlines Ulrich Baisch. “For example, we benefit from it whenever we open another site or integrate another company. Then we can immediately make all central applications available to the new employees via the Bechtle Corporate Workspace. It reinforces our networked decentralisation.”