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Digital Transformation

Queensland DAF reaps workplace flexibility harvest with Microsoft InTune

Queensland has the largest area of agricultural land of any Australian state and the highest proportion of land area in Australia dedicated to agriculture.

Meanwhile about 1,500 licensed commercial fishing boats operate in Queensland fisheries which are among the most sustainable in the world.

For farmers and fishers, the Queensland Department of Agriculture & Fisheries (DAF) plays a key role in ensuring sustainable food and fibre production.

DAF hosts one of the three corporate services hubs formed under a business and corporate partnership across six Government departments and provides ICT services across this partnership to around 9,500 staff spread across 392 locations right across Queensland. The partnership agencies all have a commitment to more flexible work practices, and an uncompromising approach to security and access; effective mobile device management is critical.

In its most recent annual reports, all six departments in the partnership confirmed ongoing support for a Digital Workplace Strategy, with the rollout of new mobile computing options and electronic time sheeting as part of an initiative to promote knowledge sharing, collaboration and productivity.

Besides the enterprise benefits this confers, the departments are mindful of the value of more flexible work practices in order to support work-life balance, retain and attract high quality staff and promote innovation.

Given the scale and importance of the transformation, getting the foundations right is imperative as Barry Irvin, Manager ICT workplace services, explains.

“I am a manager in the operations group – my teams deliver the broadly used IT services including email, desktop image, printing and mobility. When it makes sense we use cloud – particularly for applications, and we integrate cloud services for single sign on and service monitoring”

The commitment to flexible working is increasing the requirement for staff to access enterprise systems using their mobile devices. The previous approach of an on premise mobile device management system had limitations, particularly in terms of handling the pace of change mobile operating system updates.

It was difficult for us to provide a quality responsive service. We decided we wanted to use a cloud managed solution.

After comparing different options, Irvin and his team determined Microsoft InTune best met their needs.

It delivers a management solution for a much more diverse range of mobile devices that better supports the Departments’ BYOD policies; it protects enterprise data with or without device enrolment; and provides IT management with granular control over application and data access.

InTune’s mobile application management capabilities include publishing apps, configuring apps, controlling access to data, managing app protection policies, removing data and apps, updating apps, app inventory and tracking. These application protection policies can also be applied without having to manage the device injecting additional flexibility with no loss of control.

DAF had a hard deadline for the transition to InTune as licensing for the old platform was drawing to an end. By focussing on customer outcomes during the planning stage, Irvin and his team, supported by Microsoft partner Data#3, the InTune Fast Track group and Customer Adoption Team  were able to complete the InTune rollout for around 2,200 devices in just three months. In the process they created a blueprint that could be adopted by other organisations seeking to transition their mobile device management (MDM) to the cloud.

Subsequent to the project there has been a marked increase in uptake, particularly among Android users, thanks to the improved user experience delivered by InTune, Also Microsoft’s commitment to zero day support for new operating systems meant that Irvin and his team could let users update to iOS 11 and Android Oreo as soon as those operating systems were released.

Staff all across the partnership and especially those working in remote locations have welcomed the platform, commenting on improved ease of use.

– Irvin

For example: Queensland Parks and Wildlife can now use easy to carry mobiles in the field, with core apps for Rangers to manage their National Parks and respond to any situation, and Biosecurity officers can easily access immediate and relevant infection or pest data in any situation, anywhere. The whole partnership is very enthusiastic for more of their applications being accessible on mobiles.

“It’s providing more flexibility in terms of access to applications on more platforms,” says Irvin who expects that continued feature updates planned for InTune will add even greater value in the future.

The advent of application management without enrolments is one area which could have significant benefits for the partnership in the future.

In concert with the switch to InTune DAF has changed the look and feel of the enterprise portal and bookmarks as part of an ongoing commitment from Irvin and his team to “keep things fresh”.

Having InTune as the Mobile Device Manager will also help streamline the transition to Office 365. Irvin and his team are doing the preparatory work for that transition currently, and also exploring how staff can reap maximum benefit from the rich functionality provided by applications such as Dynamics CRM, Skype for Business, Teams and SharePoint online.

“Our focus is to provide a cohesive experience for customers using the suite,” says Irvin.