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How Tehama and AWS helped Harte Hanks move ‘10x as fast’ when building a virtual call center

Craig Irwin

By Craig Irwin, Vice President, Global Strategic Accounts & Alliances at Tehama

When Harte Hanks had to send its large call center staff to work from home in a matter of days this past spring, the multichannel marketing company quickly realized it needed a better solution to support remote work en masse.

“We ended up embarking on this mad scramble, to be honest with you, to find a way to provide a secure remote desktop that was affordable and could be actually deployed in a matter of days – not weeks.” This quote came from Steve Scott, Senior Director of IT Operations at Harte Hanks, during a recent live webinar and Q&A on how they leveraged Tehama powered by Amazon WorkSpaces to quickly and securely facilitate a virtual workforce. 

I had the privilege of hosting this live panel discussion with Mr. Scott, Andrew Kloman, Global Technology Lead, Digital Workplace Partners – Partner Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS), and my colleague, Jaymes Davis, Director of Product Strategy at Tehama.

To make matters more pressing, one of Harte Hanks’s largest clients – one with extensive and unique security requirements that couldn’t be satisfied by VPN or traditional Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) – was scheduled for a major project launch that week. 

“We needed something we could implement quickly, and we had very serious and significant real-time security and service standards that had to be maintained for our clients. We needed something really out-of-the-box that we could spin up in a very short amount of time. We’d looked at various VDI solutions, but none of them made financial sense to us.” - Mr. Scott 

5 Tehama features that appealed to Harte Hanks

After discovering Tehama's unique DaaS solution, however, Mr. Scott said things started making a lot more sense – financially and otherwise. Here are some of the Tehama features that immediately appealed to the 95-year-old marketing company, including:

  • Easy, fast virtual desktop provisioning with practically no learning curve
  • Built-in auditability and the ability to go back and review every action performed by every user within every Tehama virtual room
  • The flexibility of Tehama’s room-based security, which provides an easy yet powerful way to differentiate security requirements from client to client (or project to project)
  • Tehama’s natural ability to quickly scale up and down, perfect for a project-based business such as Harte Hanks 
  • The ease of implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) IT model (which prior to using Tehama was a “nightmare,” according to Mr. Scott)

“It allowed us to move 10 times as fast. It’s what needed to happen to allow us to accept work that we previously couldn't have accepted. And we would not have been able to retain the clients that we had (when Covid-19 hit).”

Tehama's DaaS Solution powered by Amazon Workspaces

Harte Hanks’s Tehama solution is powered by Amazon WorkSpaces. Although the company had used AWS for some of its servers in the past, Mr. Scott said working directly with AWS on a similar provisioning solution would have entailed too steep a learning curve. There was also no guarantee they’d be able to build a custom solution in a timely manner with such security and rigorousness.

It’s for these and other reasons that Tehama has earned Amazon Web Services’ Digital Workplace Competency (formerly called End User Computing Competency), AWS’s stamp of approval for partners who provide highly specialized technology for use with AWS solutions. 

“Our Competency is a pretty high bar to reach,” according to AWS’s Andrew Kloman, adding that only a certain percentage of AWS’s partners have the advanced technical capabilities to earn the distinction. “It's a validation of business requirements as well as technical requirements, and there's a technical baseline review that goes through several in-depth questions.”

Mr. Scott said the combination of Tehama on Amazon WorkSpaces has been a perfect fit for Harte Hanks, and has changed their business for the better including everything from cost efficiency, to client retention, to its ability to take on large projects. “We're now in a situation where we can accept projects of just about any size” thanks to Tehama’s flexibility to scale. “We couldn't do that before –  we had to take our physical constraints into consideration. That’s gone away.”

The Tehama DaaS platform is married directly inside the AWS environment and builds its private rooms on Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) combined with dozens of automated AWS functions that can be spun up practically instantly. Tehama’s built-in multi-factor authentication (MFA) using SAML 2.0 authentication technology, along with privileged communication between every Tehama room and the backend data center, allows for automatic or just-in-time provisioning of user resources in multiple regions across the globe. In the words of my colleague Jaymes Davis: “You're able to spin up a room, connect the people or hire the particular companies you need access to, and start working right away in that ‘Day Zero’ type of scenario. 

More benefits include downsized real estate footprint and access to a broader labor market

Harte Hanks, for its part, said it has also been able to downsize its real estate footprint (and related expenses) since onboarding Tehama’s virtual workforce enablement technology – and has even changed how it recruits and onboards agents. Mr. Scott said that while onboarding new remote staff can initially require more hand-holding compared to on-premises hires, Tehama’s collaborative nature makes it easy. “Now we just have one session with a group of new recruits to get them started and get them engaged and actually productive quickly,” he said. 

“It’s even changed what we look for in our agents, because it has given us broad access to a labor market that we previously just did not have access to.”

To watch a recording of the webinar, please visit How to rapidly deploy a virtual workforce with Tehama and AWS.

Watch the webinar replay

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