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Global media organisation streamlines communication and collaboration


Our client (who wishes to remain anonymous) is a global media management and investment organisation serving as the parent company to numerous media agencies. It employs over 32,000 people and has 400 offices in over 100 countries.

The organisation provides information and services to its media agencies, which are all independent global entities. As such, collaboration and communication across its operations are essential.

However, over time, many of the important identity details within its global directory had become out of date, causing the organisation a number of serious security, access and collaboration issues.

ThirdSpace deployed Access Centre Directory as a solution. It augmented the client’s existing Azure AD platform and provided the capability for employees to manage and update their own personal information in a fast, simple and secure manner.

The solution was scalable and easy to roll out across the entire organisation.


  • Users could self-service and update their personal account information.
  • Easy approval processes for line managers.
  • Easy integration with existing MIM, AAD or other popular identity synchronisation platforms.
  • ‘White pages’ functionality putting the contact details for everyone in the organisation at the relevant person's fingertips.
"Our client is delighted with the result. They have had good take-up of the directory tool and their analytics shows a better quality of data passing into their Office 365 profiles." Marcus Idle Head of CIAM ThirdSpace

The problem

Our client provides information and services to its media investment and management organisations, which are all independent global entities. As such, collaboration and communication across its operations are absolutely essential.

Our client was already using Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), Microsoft’s multi-tenant, cloud-based directory and identity management service. However, over time, many of the details within the directory, including job titles, email addresses and contact numbers had become out of date. This was causing the organisation a number of issues with efficiency and timeliness of communication. For example, an advertising agency collaborating with regional/global partners on a globally coordinated advertising campaign could not be confident that information relating to key advertising briefs and marketing messages would be received by the appropriate personnel – and would not be leaked.

This issue was becoming increasingly apparent over recent years and our client needed an automated process for cleaning the directory’s data without overloading the IT service desk.

Azure AD allows an organisation to manage its users’ profiles data in two ways:

  1. Either it can allow users to manage their own profile data
  2. Or the organisation can take control of all the profile data – for example, by feeding information from the HR database

The freedom allowed by the first option was not acceptable for our client. It wanted to ensure a high quality of information within the directory, and this required them to have more control over which fields could be updated.

The second option was unviable because of its high joiner/mover/leaver numbers.

Our client wanted a technical solution that would provide its employees with the self-service capability to review and amend pre-qualified Azure AD identity details, with the addition of an approvals process.

ThirdSpace was referred to the client by Microsoft, who recommended us as the technical partner with the right skills, experience and expertise.

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The solution

ThirdSpace’s Access Centre Directory solution is a web application that extends the business value of Microsoft’s Azure AD platform by providing a fast, simple and secure solution that allows employees to manage their own personal information. It allows flexible configuration and integration of user data into Microsoft Identity Manager (MIM) or other synchronisation tools.

In this bespoke deployment, Access Centre, which comprises a set of mostly Azure-based components, was plumbed into our client’s identity synchronisation toolset.

To use the solution to update their details, employees click an icon within the Office 365 ‘MyApps’ page to reach the Access Centre home page. From here, they can view and manage their details and, where applicable, those of their direct reports. When managing their profile details, users are limited to valid options for attributes such as office address, phone, manager, etc., to ensure a higher quality of data.

Working with our client, ThirdSpace defined which fields should be mandatory to complete or update, and which fields, once updated, require manager approval. By including an approvals process, the solution provides quality assurance that job titles and other identity details are correct.

Our client is rolling out the self-service solution to its 13,000 UK accounts. At the time of writing, the first phase has gone live and 5,000 UK based employees have been given access to self-serve their Azure AD identity fields. Of the 5000, 3000 accounts have been updated.

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