Channel Surfing

Company improves sales with Web access and identity management solution

When managers at Ingersoll Rand sought to enhance the efficiency of their dealer sales channel, they turned to a Web access and identity management solution for help. This global manufacturer of industrial products and services distributes some of the world’s most popular industrial brands, including Club Car golf carts, Bobcat compact construction vehicles and Ingersoll Rand portable generators and air compressors. The Web is a prominent figure in the 130- year-old company’s strategy for communicating with its dealer network.

However, a multitude of Web applications resulted in technology silos that prevented Ingersoll Rand from fully leveraging its dealer relationships across brands. The company was challenged when consolidating these applications to simplify dealers’ lives and enhance cross selling of Ingersoll Rand brands through the channel. Ingersoll Rand was able to meet these objectives and improve its overall portal security posture through the deployment of an identity and access management solution.

Dealing with Multiple Portals
Ingersoll Rand uses company-employed and independent dealers to sell and service its Bobcat, Club Car and Ingersoll Rand equipment. These dealers rely on Web applications to locate product information, place orders and check delivery status. Before the company launched its portal consolidation project, dealers had to navigate through multiple, brand-specific Web applications, each with its own look and feel. Ordering from multiple brands meant that dealers had to maintain separate user accounts for each site and input distinct user names and passwords as they moved between Web sites. The result was limited synergy between company brands from a dealer perspective.

In addition to usability concerns, isolated portals created management challenges for administrators. Every time an existing dealer took on a new brand, it would mean a new, separate user ID and password to administer. New user registration was accomplished through a largely manual process, and the system provided limited ability to delegate user administration to on-site administrators. Multiple applications led to multiple avenues for user lifecycle management, which resulted in some accounts not being disabled in a timely fashion.

Enter Access and Identity Management
To foster better dealer synergy across the brand line, IT management undertook an ambitious project to consolidate dealer-facing Web applications into a single portal. Choice of a Web access and identity management product was a critical consideration for this project. The solution had to be secure, provide for efficient administration of users and allow users to transparently access information across the multiple brands. Ingersoll Rand selected Oracle Access Manager to provide these functions. The product acts as a central source for authentication and authorization of Web applications, and it provides interfaces for self-service and delegated user administration, as well as workflow functionality to automate approval processes.

Ingersoll Rand consolidated its brandspecific Web applications behind a single portal application. To accomplish this, user identities scattered across the individual Web applications were merged into a single repository hosted on a directory service. Web server extensions were deployed to enable custom-built applications to leverage the centralized user authentication and authorization service. Embeddable Web inserts were used to selectively expose user administration functionalities within the portal application. Customized navigation menus based on the user’s identity pulled the various Web sites together, while XML stylesheets provided a custom, branded interface and consistency of application look and feel. The result was a single entry point, allowing dealers to access product information and ordering applications across the various brands with a single sign-on.

The access and identity solution’s user administration features are central to the portal’s scalability. The identity management infrastructure enables portal administrators to delegate user administration to individuals in the various dealerships, while the complex hierarchy of the dealer network is managed with the product’s user and organization management features. Dealer administrators use the administration components embedded in the application interface to add and delete users and manage their account privileges.

Keys to a Suceessful Deployment
The identity and access management deployment team identified three factors they thought were key to making the deployment successful. First, they aligned the project goals with top-line business objectives. As a result, team members were able to communicate to the businesses how the project would contribute to strategic goals for sales, operational efficiency and risk management. Second, the team selected an implementation partner experienced with identity and access management solutions, directory services, services-oriented architectures and Web development language. This allowed the company to leverage the implementer’s learning curve with these technologies, helping them anticipate and mitigate potential deployment issues.

Finally, the team proactively involved the application owners in the various lines of business early in the deployment planning cycle. This generated buy-in by the application owners and alleviated potential concerns about control of identity information.

Business Benefits
The dealer portal helps Ingersoll Rand facilitate product sales by their channel partners. Giving dealers a single site where they can navigate and order across multiple brands encourages dealers to expand product portfolios.

The dealer portal also reduces administrative overhead by consolidating user identities, delegating administration responsibilities and automating repetitive system administration tasks. In fact, Ingersoll Rand estimates that in-house dealer administrators can now handle 80 to 90 percent of day-to-day support activities.

As an additional benefit of the identity and access management deployment, Ingersoll Rand now has an infrastructure that can be leveraged internally and externally across business units and for additional application deployments.

Since deployment of the dealer portal three years ago, the company has seen its active user base more than double. The system has been maintained without any significant increase in support resources since inception, even with consistent double-digit growth in the user base and number of integrated applications. Most importantly, dealers report that it is now much easier to interact with the systems. All this has taken place in an environment of upgraded security and lower corporate risk, proving that a well-implemented access and identity solution can deliver a strategic business impact.

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