The Gym Group & Okta – partners in strategy
The Gym Group has a unique business model with a contract-free, low cost approach that has enabled them to grow into a successful business with over 180 sites in the UK. Technology has been a key enabler of this, and facilitating that technology, has been Okta.
“Technology enables us to serve a high number of members to provide a fantastic gym experience through things like automated access control, online-only sales, and member sales serve” McIntosh explains. “Identity and access management is absolutely key to that.”
Okta has been a major part of this architecture and infrastructure. “Okta plays a key role in our technology stack, fundamentally improving our security model, and enabling more features around things like multi-factor authentication. It's got context-based policies around location-based awareness, and it's really key for health-first strategy based applications that can help us scale. As we continue to grow as a business this is crucially important.”
The Gym Group has multiple cloud applications and a workforce that’s spread out all over the UK with diverse skills. They therefore needed a solution that would be easy for staff to interact with, but also gave them all the functionality they required.
“When we were evaluating Okta, we were looking for something that would fit with a wide range of different authentication processes that were in our existing applications” McIntosh says. “We wanted to primarily provide an interface to our staff that was intuitive for them to pick up. It was really important that we had a level of reporting and understanding of how the tool was being used, where it was being used, and what our security profile was, so that we can bring new applications in confidently and understand how our staff are using them.”
With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic they had to quickly adapt processes, and Okta helped ease these changes. “We were able to rapidly bring in new applications, adopt our technology model for staff, and really get insight into how those platforms are being adopted, making that initial adoption as frictionless as possible” McIntosh explains.
“Okta’s absolutely helped us with that approach, automating a number of the identity access management features and access to applications that all our staff benefit from” Tinegate says. “With the features of Okta around automated lifecycle management, and licence provisioning, it's really helped remove those manual steps that are prone to error and reduce support calls, and also help staff on the ground and in the office be much more productive.”
Like so many other businesses, the Gym Group is looking forward to being fully operational once the pandemic is under control so they can get on with future plans. “We’re really excited to get back to the day job of delivering the gym experience to hundreds of thousands of members” McIntosh says. “Behind that initial re-enabling of the business, we're looking to grow both in terms of our core products, and also affiliated products and services that we can bring in. We see Okta having a major role to play in both of these strategies.”
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.