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Howdy folks,

Over the past three years we’ve had the privilege to work closely with many thousands of customers helping them successfully deploy and use Azure AD Premium. Over that period we have been surprised to see how many of our customers are national and global retailers.

In fact, many of the world’s largest retailers are Azure AD Premium customers. These retailers have been among the most progressive organizations in the world as they worked to reinvent the way their store and warehouse staff work by leveraging the power of the the cloud, smart devices and Azure AD Premium.

And lucky for us, we’ve learned a ton from these customers and their progressive efforts!

Retail Industry Challenges

Large retailers face unique challenges due to the massive scale of their store workforces, relatively high levels of staff turnover and the huge volume of devices that these store workers use and share. In addition these organizations tend to have relatively young employees and those millennial employees are among the most tech savvy and digitally connected people on the planet.

Our largest retail customers around the world have told us that to modernize their retail operations and build omni-channel/unified commerce capabilities, they had to be able to do three things:

  • Increase employee productivity and customer responsiveness.
  • Increase collaboration across departments and supply chains.
  • Secure a wide variety of employees, customers, partners, applications and devices across their virtual organizations.

And to do all this, they needed to provide a unique digital identity to every user and device across their organization.

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To make sure these important customers can succeed, we’ve made service enhancements targeted specifically at their needs”:

  • Managing identity lifecycle for hundreds of thousands of employees.
  • Providing easy and secure access to retail specific apps.
  • Protecting all types of users, apps and devices (shared, company owned and BYOD).

For example, we’ve focused our ISV recruitment efforts on the critical SaaS application categories our retail customers value like Learning Management, Collaboration, Task Management, Supply Chain, HR, and Time Scheduling. Just this month we’ve added support for eight new applications in these categories:

  • Kronos
  • Anaplan
  • Cornerstone OnDemand
  • Hightail
  • Workforce Manager
  • Tangoe
  • Tidemark
  • Edigital Research

And as part of these efforts, today I’m happy to announce the availability of our new Azure AD Deployment Guides for the Retail industry. These guides include a ton of best practices, lists of pre-requisites for successful deployments and proposed architectural designs based on varying levels of productivity and security needs.

Working with Microsoft Partners

We’ve also been working with our top SI partners around the world getting them ready to enable these retail use cases using these deployment best practices. If you are a large retailer, these partners can help you with pilots and production deployments. We will back-stop each of them, giving them a direct line into our engineering team.

Please ask your Microsoft Account representative to get started with partner and engineering assistance on quick pilots and deployments and a specially priced sku that can help you take advantage of economies of scale.

This is just the beginning

We’re just getting started on this effort, so make sure to follow this blog or to follow me on Twitter (@Alex_A_Simons). We’ll be publishing customer stories and highlight news features that are particularly valuable for retailers, including things like password less signin to shared devices, conditional access policies based on time schedules for store workers and various other use cases in the retail industry.

And as always, we’d love to receive any feedback or suggestions you have.

Best Regards,

Alex Simons (Twitter: @Alex_A_Simons)

Director of Program Management

Microsoft Identity Division

 

P.S.: If you are interested, here’s a quick overview of the new deployment guides we just published

Azure AD Retail Deployment Guides

Managing Identity life cycle at scale for store/seasonal workers – This guide describes how to deploy a unified cloud identity platform to manage identity lifecycle of particularly your seasonal/store staff. Whether you have multiple sources like databases, payroll systems or LDAP directories for storing identities or have no unique user identities / HR systems in place today, this guide describes how to manage identities at scale with Azure AD in all these scenarios

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Raising Productivity of store workers – This guide provides detailed instructions on configuring easy and secure single sign on to all your applications as well as self- service tools for password reset and group management that reduce help desk calls and let your users handle these tasks. One of our grocery retail customer saved over $250K in help desk calls in the first quarter of deploying self-service password rest for their store workers.

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Centralized Security management for all users, devices and applications – This deployment guide provides best practices on consistent security management, monitoring and access control encompassing all type of users, applications and devices. The guide details how to configure access policies for different personas and use cases. (e.g. certain users /groups get access to specific apps only when they are in the store).