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BentallGreenOak Navigates M&As With Cloud-Based Collaboration

M&As don’t always succeed, but BentallGreenOak has found a way to improve its odds by using Egnyte for consolidated file collaboration and security.

$74B
in assets under management
750+
clients and partners
24
offices around the world

BentallGreenOak is a leading global real estate investment management advisor and provider of real estate services, with expertise in asset management for office, industrial, multi-residential, retail, and hospitality properties. It operates in 14 countries, with major offices in New York, London, Toronto, and Tokyo.

The company was formed in July 2019, when Bentall Kennedy merged with Green Oak. At the time, BentallGreenOak was poised to become an industry powerhouse, offering lending and property management services to companies around the world. But first it had to address the content management challenges created by the merger. It needed a platform that improved the user experience and added enterprise security controls, and it needed to act swiftly.

Challenge: Streamlining M&A in the Hyper-Competitive Real Estate Industry

Companies like BentallGreenOak pursue mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to gain new capabilities, expand their market presence, and operate more efficiently. However, many mergers fail to achieve their desired outcomes in the face of people, process, and technology issues.

In addition to navigating typical merger challenges, BentallGreenOak’s IT team needed to consolidate and improve its content management. The two companies operated 32 separate on-premises file servers and used multiple solutions for content management, including Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft SharePoint, Box, and more. With point solutions proliferating, the company lacked visibility into how content was accessed, used, and stored.

“Microsoft OneDrive is a great solution for personal drives, but we didn’t have an enterprise-level file sharing structure,” says Imraan Kassam, architecture lead and enterprise architecture advisor for BentallGreenOak.

Users were spending too much time searching for content stored across multiple drives and team sites, and the company lacked visibility into how that information was being shared, which created potential security vulnerabilities.

Kassam’s team decided to come together in early 2020 to develop a strategy that would move the company to the cloud, addressing its need for enterprise-grade file services and identity and access management.

“We created new structures to move legacy data into a new file services architecture... Our integrations now take just six weeks, whereas earlier ones took up to two years.”
Imraan Kassam
Architecture Lead and Enterprise Architecture Advisor, BentallGreenOak

Solution: Choosing the Best Solution for Global Content Management

The IT team at BentallGreenOak began researching enterprise file-sharing solutions. They needed a partner to help BentallGreenOak consolidate its dozens of repositories and migrate to the cloud. They also needed a platform that delivered an exceptional user experience and seamless, secure integration with existing tools and digital workflows.

“Egnyte didn’t have a requirement for on-premises infrastructure,” Kassan said. “Other solutions often require that you replicate cloud data holdings on-premises for added redundancy, which was a model we wanted to avoid.”

Egnyte also provides tight integration with Okta, which BentallGreenOak uses for identity and access management (IAM). As a result, the company significantly strengthened its IAM capabilities across all its teams. In addition, Egnyte integrates with a host of other popular solutions such as Microsoft 365 (including OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams), as well as Box and DocuSign, which the company’s teams were already using.

Egnyte also helped BentallGreenOak improve the user experience. Previously, employees that used Microsoft collaboration tools had to use a VPN to access files, which slowed productivity and introduced potential security gaps due to the use of third-party VPN.

With Egnyte, employees simply log in to a web browser using any device and see all of their files on the same drive. Global teams securely access files remotely, co-edit content, and tap into integrations like DocuSign to streamline digital workflows. In addition, the company’s leadership team and fundraisers can easily access critical documents from their phones while meeting face-to-face with clients or prospective investors.

“We wanted to make the transition very seamless for our users. If employees stored their files on a G-drive on a server in Vancouver, the data was still there the day we deployed Egnyte, exactly as they saw it before. However, now our teams can access their data from their web browser and mobile devices, making them far more productive,” says Imran Khan.

Benefits: Moving Fast to Capture New Market Opportunity

BentallGreenOak migrated its existing legacy data infrastructure to Egnyte’s cloud-based platform in 2020, prioritizing speed to market over data transformation. That way, users were equipped with new capabilities faster, but the company was still better positioned to address its expanded data holdings in the long-term.

“We created new structures to move legacy data into a new file services architecture,” says Kassan. By creating that new cloud-based architecture, BentallGreenOak can more easily integrate subsequent corporate acquisitions, Kassam says.

The company acquired Metropolitan Real Estate Equity Management in 2021 and has also purchased industrial assets in other transactions. “Our integrations now take just six weeks, whereas earlier ones took up to two years,” Kassam states.

Previously, accessing content stored at a data center on the other side of a country would have created latency issues for users. But now, employees work together seamlessly, across offices and regions and throughout the pandemic. In addition, staff can securely share content with external parties, while maintaining content governance.

“Providing speed of access for our international users and a web-native experience has significantly improved the user experience and performance,” Kassam said.

With Egnyte as the hub of its content activities, BentallGreenOak has an ecosystem of solutions that play well together. “Our users want to save to Egnyte now because it’s easier to do that, and they can access all of their content from their mobile or other devices,” Kassam said.

As a result of its success with Egnyte, BentallGreenOak is considering using the content management platform for even more sensitive applications, such as standing up virtual data rooms where teams review a target acquisition’s’ strategic, financial, and operational data to evaluate potential M&As.

With a secure, scalable content management platform behind it, BentallGreenOak has achieved remarkable growth. The company’s revenues have soared from $46 billion to $70 billion in just three years. With strong investor interest and a significant asset base, the best is yet to come for this real estate firm.

AT A GLANCE
Industry

Real estate

Location

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Total Employees

900+

Egnyte Products

Platform Enterprise

Themes

Access governance, file sharing and collaboration, remote work

Learn More

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