Mobile Device Management (MDM) Case Study
K-VA-T Food Stores Finds a Mobile Device Management Solution Right up its Aisle (Cont'd)
We have empowered our employees, simplified the administration process and saved money. There really is no downside.”
Ben Lawson, Security and Compliance Manager, K-VA-T Food Stores
About K-VA-T Food Stores
K-VA-T Food Stores Facts
Provide a cost-effective, highly secure way for mobile employees to access corporate resources while offering a choice of devices
Good™ for Enterprise from AT&T supporting 300 smartphone users
Flexible choices for employees, highly secure access across a range of devices and reduced expenditures
Retail grocery, fuel and pharmacy
106 retail locations
K-VA-T Food Stores runs more than 106 store locations throughout Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, primarily under the Food City banner. This privately held firm ranks among the 50 largest supermarket chains. K-VA-T also operates Super Value Discount Foods and has branched out into smaller grocery models, convenience stores, pharmacies and gasoline retailing. As a brand, Food City is known for strong customer service, aggressive pricing and its community focus as well as its efforts to bring in local produce to help farmers and satisfy customer demand.
To support its field supervisors and managers on the road, K-VA-T had been supplying corporate-owned smartphones that were specially configured for secure access to email, contacts and company resources. But as smartphone technology developed, more and more employees wanted to use the newer, user-friendly personal phones to access company information. While K-VA-T wanted to please its employees, it was concerned about the security of its corporate information.
With the help of its AT&T team, K-VA-T found a way to accommodate the desires of its highly mobile associates, while addressing its security concerns and containing its overall mobility expenditures. The company switched to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model, using Good™ for Enterprise from AT&T to provide managed and highly secure access to company resources from a variety of employee-owned devices. This greatly reduced the day-to-day management requirements and simplified the access to corporate applications.
“To Be the Best Grocery Store in Town”
Since its beginning as a single store in Grundy, Virginia, K-VA-T Food Stores has been guided by the refreshingly simple goal of founder Jack C. Smith: To be the best grocery store in town. Even though the company is now among the larger supermarket chains in the country, supported by sophisticated technology and distribution systems, that focus on the customer and community has enabled K-VA-T to compete against some of the most dominant large-format retailers in the business.
The coordination between AT&T and Good was completely seamless from our perspective. It felt like one entity, one implementation."
Ben Lawson, Security and Compliance Manager, K-VA-T Food Stores
“We’re not looking to be a mass merchandiser,” said Ben Lawson, Security and Compliance Manager. “We focus on customer service, product freshness, working with local farmers and producers, and delivering what our shoppers want. We’re creating what we think is the best grocery store option for our customers.”
Indeed, K-VA-T has taken advantage of new trends in technology and social media to support its customers and to improve the shopping experience. The company alerts customers to specials via email and text messages, allows shoppers to track their buying habits online, offers online ‘classes’ on party planning and cooking, and has introduced interactive kiosks and digital signage to simplify day-to-day shopping. It is also building its social media presence for new ways to interact with its customers. K-VA-T is all supported by a busy IT staff of 40 that manages everything from the company’s applications to its wide area network.
Keeping Mobile Managers in Touch
To operate more than 100 locations spread across a three-state area, K-VA-T depends heavily on supervisors and district managers who spend their days visiting stores in their territories. “We have staff on the road every day making sure our stores are running as efficiently as possible,” said Lawson. “Mobility is a key part of that.” Early on, K-VA-T saw the value in using smartphones to keep supervisors in touch with their offices and stores, and to provide access to company email, calendar and contact information virtually wherever they happen to be.
Like many companies at the time, K-VA-T had been providing field staff with corporate devices that had been specially configured for secure access to company applications. A dedicated internal staff was responsible for buying, managing, issuing and replacing the phones, paying the bills and troubleshooting any issues that arose. It was fairly expensive, but did offer the security and control K-VA-T required.
“But then the smartphone world changed,” said Lawson. As the newer touch-based phones won over the consumer markets, employees began to pressure the company to use the more advanced devices -- or at least allow them to access email and calendar information through their own personal smartphones. In addition, staff that had not been provided with company phones, such as store managers, were beginning to ask why they couldn’t use their own devices to check their email or receive updates when away from the store.
“We wanted to react positively,” said Lawson, “and we did see there could be some cost advantages to letting employees use their own smartphones. But our first concern was to make sure we could manage the security issues involved, so we did a lot of research into possible solutions.”
Settling on a BYOD Platform
Lawson found that the Good™ for Enterprise platform met almost all his requirements. It supported most types of mobile devices, it protected data both ‘in flight’ and at rest, and it gave K-VA-T total control over access to company data.
“We have a fairly robust relationship with AT&T for our MPLS wide area network, long distance and Internet access,” said Lawson. “When the mobility expert on my AT&T team heard I was considering Good, he became engaged right away, offering his opinions and helping me think through our needs. He essentially said, ‘If Good fits your requirements, we will implement it for you.’ And AT&T wasn’t even our primary wireless carrier at the time. That was key to our decision to go with Good.”
From a corporate perspective, K-VA-T did not want nor need to access personal information on the devices. The Good application provides an encrypted container that only houses K-VA-T data. “That was an important selling point not only for our end users, but for our company,” said Lawson.
Once K-VA-T opted for the Good platform, the company designed and launched a Bring Your Own Device program which involved transitioning users from a corporate plan to personal plans for their own smartphones. Under the BYOD program, the company reimburses employees for costs involved in accessing corporate mobile applications using a device of their choosing. Lawson and his team went to great lengths to help users decide on the best data plans for their needs.
From there it was a matter of setting up the Good enterprise server, pushing out the Good smartphone app to individual users and showing people how to access their email, calendars and contacts through their smartphones. The full implementation took about 90 days. “The coordination between AT&T and Good was completely seamless from our perspective,” said Lawson. “It felt like one entity, one implementation.
“For our employees, it’s an easy transition too. Good for Enterprise from AT&T works like any other app on their phone,” said Lawson. “It looks and feels familiar. They open the app, authenticate and they have full access. We have empowered our employees, simplified the administration process and saved money,” he added. “There really is no downside.”
Simple, Streamlined, Highly Secure
With the Good platform in place, Lawson saw significant benefits relatively quickly. For one, day-to-day administration for the IT staff is minimal, about one-tenth of what was involved in managing the hundreds of corporate-owned devices. Staff only need to set up accounts for new users and activate their devices as they come on board -- or delete an account if an employee leaves the company.
Since K-VA-T no longer pays for devices, Lawson also saw sizeable savings on the company’s wireless spend. The company now reimburses a portion of employees’ data plans. “We have freed up our IT people to work on projects more critical than managing mobile devices.”
As for control and management, the Good platform has proved to be robust and responsive. “There is little or no K-VA-T data on the phone itself and what is there is encrypted. What’s more, if a smartphone is ever lost or stolen, we can remotely delete the Good app, wipe any data associated with it and immediately shut off access to company data from that phone.”
Equally important, Lawson and his team can activate a new phone just as quickly with an extra layer of security. “Our CFO recently lost his smartphone in a taxi. He borrowed a phone to contact us, and we were immediately able to wipe the lost device of any company information. Luckily, he was able to buy a new phone right away, which we activated remotely. He was back online with his email, calendar and contacts just an hour later.”
The Good for Enterprise application has proven so efficient and popular with employees that Lawson and his team are exploring new ways to take advantage of the possibilities in mobility.
“Right now, we’re looking into using tablets to provide store and corporate personnel with business intelligence and analytics capabilities. We also have employees asking about using their smartphones to access HR or 401(k) information, to clock in and out, and other applications we never even thought of.
“To be sure, we’ll be looking to AT&T going forward. They have the solutions, they know how we do business, they understand our corporate environment and they know what’s important to us. Our AT&T relationship makes everything easier.”