Customer Study: Cerkl

September 17, 2020

Cerkl is a cross-channel internal communications solution that serves over 2 million active users a month. Through Cerkl, company-wide communicators can better target company employees by utilizing AI and machine learning to deliver content that is unique to each employee's interest and delivery preferences. Better than traditional email, their tools enable higher engagement and more effective communication to across organizations.

The Problem

Cerkl caters to clients of all sizes and across all sectors, from government to financial services. SSO is table-stakes in order to pass vendor reviews and to secure larger contracts with most companies, but especially larger and enterprise-sized organizations.

We heard a lot from our clients that they would like to protect their content and let their people know that it's going through them. A lot of our customers work in sensitive industries where security is a must. Having SSO gives them the peace of mind that their employee's data is protected and that the content they are sharing is only accessible by people in their organization.

Cerkl experienced what now feels like a recurring theme for companies trying to move up-market: opportunities in the sales pipeline halted due to the absence of an SSO offering. Each of those potential customers were asking for support for a different Identity Provider (IdP) like Okta, VMWare Workspace ONE, and Google.

Cerkl originally estimated that implementing SSO for all the requested IdPs was “probably a couple months endeavor", and the engineering team had started working toward setting up SimpleSAMLphp for SAML SSO. Although SSO was an important feature, they quickly realized implementing it in-house would take time away from their engineering team working to support their core product & better serving the communication needs of their customers.

The Solution

Cerkl started building with the WorkOS SDK, getting SSO working in hours. Within two days, Cerkl had SSO production-ready; something they originally projected would have taken them months. Using WorkOS, they were able to get Okta, VMWare Workspace ONE, and Google SSO working quickly and efficiently.

WorkOS out-of-the-box supported things right. WorkOS takes care of all of the infrastructure, all of the technical problems, managing the servers, and managing any issues that come up. Switching to WorkOS enabled us to present a polished solution to our clients which helped build trust with them.

Once SSO was built into the product, it didn’t just unblock deals - it also improved the user experience materially. Users could stop using an external username and password, and integrate directly with their existing IdPs.

How our users interact with their company's content and delivery preferences brings them to Cerkl - it's designed to be white-labeled so they don't feel like they've left their intranet. With SSO enabled we are able to take them directly to their SSO provider's login screen and then back to Cerkl so it always feels like an extension of their intranet.

The Impact

With SSO implemented quickly and securely via WorkOS, Cerkl was able to roll out SSO to their customer base of over 1,000 organizations with over 2M users.

WorkOS frees us up. WorkOS provides features people have come to expect and now it's something we can say we offer. SSO was a requirement for a couple clients before they would even agree to sign, so now, we signed those deals just by having it [through WorkOS].

After implementing enterprise-grade SSO, the sales team felt more empowered in ongoing discussions with larger deals in the pipeline. They were able to successfully pass vendor reviews and continue to strengthen their RFPs.

Before WorkOS, we would respond with “yeah, we're looking into it.” But SSO started becoming such a big factor to our clients being able to say yes. Now we can confidently respond to the “Do you support this SSO provider?” question with “Yes, we support that” automatically - just by being integrated with WorkOS.
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