How Chevron's credit union went mobile without fear

Credit: jonathan mcintosh via Flickr

With more than 60,000 employees spread across 180 countries, energy conglomerate Chevron has a global footprint. Which means a lot of remote work for representatives of Chevron Federal Credit Union (CFCU), a financial institution with $2.3 billion in assets that serves Chevron’s about 70,000 current and retired employees.

Two years ago, as the bring-your-own-device revolution was gaining steam, CFCU CIO Sachin Kundra decided his longtime BlackBerry shop needed a different platform for reps to take sensitive and confidential financial data into the field. So he started looking at mobile device management vendors, quickly realizing there were as many as 150 players crowding the field.

“It was highly commoditized,” Kundra says. “Everybody and their brother had figured out how to do it. But we’ve got a vendor management policy that requires us to conduct due diligence to figure out who the top players are (in any tech sector). We have a minimum of two vendors that we must bake off, and we generally try to do about three.”

So in early 2011 Kundra launched a nine-month pilot program to test out several MDM vendors, including Zenprise, MobileIron, AirWatch, and AppSense and its MobileNow management platform, which CFCU tested in beta mode as part of a "customer select" program.

(AppSense announced the official release of MobileNow last week. The platform currently only supports iOS, but a company spokesman said "AppSense is currently testing Android and it will be fully available in the coming months.")

Kundra says he immediately found a lot to like about the MobileNow platform.

“The first litmus test was the admin user interface,” he says. “MobileNow’s UI is clean, simplified and very intuitive. Sometimes when things are incredibly simple they become very powerful.” While all the vendors “could get data on the devices,” Kundra says, “MobileNow was the only vendor who gave us the ability to track our data and see what applications it was talking to. We were able to manage more than just the device, we were able to manage the data.”

Sold on MobileNow’s UI and data management capabilities, Kundra went ahead with an SaaS implementation, which he says took “maybe two or three hours.”

“The afternoon we had it up and running, 15 people signed themselves up,” Kundra says. “We didn’t have to do anything. We didn’t have to touch their devices. And once you’ve got it set up, managing it is very simple.”

So simple, Kundra says, “We don’t manage it any more, it’s a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of thing. If a user goes out and gets a new phone or a new device, they don’t have to come to the service desk and say, ‘Hey, I got a new phone or device and I want to get some data on it.’ They’re able to self-provision their devices and never have to rely on the help desk.”

While MobileNow makes it easy for workers with access the platform, the policy-driven engine behind it is anything but lax.

“MobileNow lets us actually manage the data,” he says. “As an example, we’re able to control which applications talk to each other. We have a lot of sensitive, highly regulated data, and we’re able to tell which apps can use certain data, what they’re allowed to do with it, and whether they’re allowed to be emailed out. We’re able to put a set of policies around this data, and nobody else could do that for us.”

This combination of security and flexibility “has really helped our business by letting our employees take member data with them out into the field so when they’re out at Chevron facilities and refineries, they’re able to help service our members a lot better.”

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