When a Fortune 500 Global Retail company with over 35,000 employees and operating in 170 countries needed help implementing the information protection component of their Microsoft 365 E5 suite, Collective Insights stepped in to set the strategy, execute the plan and ultimately help them make the most of their E5 license for maximum data security. Having successfully completed a global multifactor authentication (MFA) modernization and deployment project with the client, we possessed a strong understanding of the company’s diverse user base and leveraged our holistic, strategic approach to ensure a smooth activation that would not create any costly user or business disruptions.
A global enterprise with several category-leading brands, the client’s digital infrastructure needed to accommodate a wide variety of use cases across retail stores, corporate offices, and manufacturing facilities, as well as a range of languages. As a result, specific touchpoints and tools varied greatly, and our team needed to make sure that any technical updates would not adversely affect one group of users or the business overall.
In this engagement with the company, we were also tasked with strengthening their approach to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or rather, increasing security as information flowed in and out of the digital environment. The client already had a viable solution within their Microsoft E5 license – Microsoft Purview Information Protection – which would require strategic configuration and activation according to their specific business needs.
Microsoft Purview Information Protection offers flexible protection options, including sensitive customer data labels, double key encryption, and Office 365 Message Encryption (OME), to cite a few examples. The solution would allow the client to understand and protect their data, establish solid governance practices, and help prevent data loss and data breaches. To access those benefits, however, the company needed to take a strategic approach to configuration and implementation to get the most benefit while ensuring successful enterprise-scale adoption.
“Throughout our engagements with the client, we took the approach of recommending best-in-class solutions for each use case, which repeatedly proved to be those included in the M365 E5 package. Using Purview Information Protection, we were able to help them better control the flow of information throughout the environment without overly limiting collaboration between their expansive user base”
– Steve Angell
Solutions & Approach
Collective Insights has partnered with many Fortune 500 companies to strategically implement and configure the Microsoft 365 E5 package according to their specific requirements. Each of our collaborations looks different depending on the specific needs of the organization, but all are informed by best practices, strategic planning, and organizational change management. In this case, we met with the client to understand their requirements and vulnerabilities, completed a strategic assessment, and refined our phased approach based on their global implementation needs.
For all of our engagements with the client, we took a phased approach that would allow us to focus on specific user segments and/or geographical regions rather than launch a blanket solution that would invariably work better for some than others. As a rule of thumb, we aim to engineer solutions according to the 80/20 rule, prioritizing the most high-impact implementations to strengthen the company’s security posture while minimizing user impact.
We started by standardizing a set of data labels (public, confidential, etc.) for documents, then assessed the company’s secure vs. nonsecure apps to improve the control of information as it moved through its environment. Throughout this process, we emphasized best practices for sensitive data protection, like implementing four or five usable labels rather than a much higher number that will confuse the user base and go unused. In preparation for rolling out Microsoft Purview Information Protection, we created a phased approach that started with North America, followed by the EMEA and APAC regions. This approach allowed us to ensure that each region was aware of the change, the importance of the new capabilities, and where to go with questions while also incorporating learnings from previous phases.
Results & Lessons Learned
At the conclusion of the project, the client was able to activate security feature capabilities already included in their Microsoft 365 E5 suite, increasing their overall utilization of the license investment. Currently, we are completing the rollout to all North American users and conducting pilots with EMEA and APAC. The result from the initial phase of work has been a drastic reduction of sensitive data flowing to areas of the business where it does not belong, as well as a much lower likelihood of data loss in general.
We build the business case, create the plan and then drive our clients’ modernization of legacy, on-premises, and siloed technology.
We implement Microsoft solutions like Defender, Entra, and Purview to secure Microsoft 365 and Azure to keep our customers safe while increasing productivity in the modern work environment.