With 500 agencies across France, the Foncia group is the largest property manager in France. To manage 60,000 condominiums, 400,000 rental properties, 25,000 vacation rentals and 20,000 transactions (2020 figures), the company employs 10,000 people spread over 500 sites (5 to 15 people), with management regional groups of around 200 people. “Everything is managed centrally from our headquarters in Antony”, explained Pascal Anquetin, the company’s CIO. The latter arrived at Foncia at the end of 2017, in the wake of its current president Philippe Salle, who wanted to change things and operate the digital transformation of the group. “After a traditional career in IT services companies, then as DSI at CRIT, Elior and Altran, I followed Philippe Salle at Foncia, who shows a clear desire to transform the company. He is a very tech-savvy president, invested in IT issues. Funcia therefore undertook its digital transformation 4/5 years ago, told us the DSI, who oversees a team of around a hundred people, some of whom are exclusively dedicated to the network.
In 2018, the CIO chose to use iPhones in the company, then in 2019 the question of workstations quickly arose with the desire to simplify everyday IT. “The idea was to bring more transparency to our agencies and our employees, so that they spend more time with clients. Apple was chosen as an obvious choice, with the transition to leasing to meet the economic equation, thanks to a reduction in the cost of support and an extremely high recovery of terminals after three years of use for Macbook Pros. The residual value of Macs after three years allows us to find ourselves when Windows PCs are no longer worth much”. With agencies having few IT resources, the simpler support for Macs – with the help of Jamf – clearly tipped the balance with SCC as the partner for the deployment of the machines and BNP for the financing part. “We looked at the prices and decided to simplify the range by making a limited choice with iPad Pro 12.9 with keyboard (without 5G modem) for employees in contact with customers and Macbook Pro 13 – with some 16-inch models. for specific performance needs – for others”. These terminals began to be deployed in mid-2019 in regional agencies and offices. “It took six months to build the platform with SCC, and we accelerated deployments in 2020.
Apprehensions quickly lifted
Nearly 1,300 tablets and 2,000 Macs were distributed with 200 to 300 Intel Powerbook Pros at the start, but “we quickly switched to M1 models”, reports the DSI. “iPads are very popular with customers for their tactile aspect,” says Pascal Anquetin, who suggests that Apple extend this functionality to its Macbooks. The DSI intends to complete the renewal of all of its workstations – exclusively nomadic without a fixed post – in mid-2023 with in the end 1,500 iPad Pro and 8,500 Macbook Pro. Only a few PCs will remain for specific needs. “We will accelerate deployments in the coming months to meet the deadlines.” Terminals ordered on D-Day before 2 p.m. are thus delivered the next day by SCC, while on-site support is provided by Apple Care and its regional partners.
The switch to the Apple platform – and therefore to a new work environment – has however caused some apprehension among some employees. “But this apprehension of the platform very quickly passed, to make room for the curiosity to discover this platform. Ownership was rapid with videos and online guides to support users. However, some particular collaborators with Excel and its macros do not find it and we use VDI – in remote desktop mode – for certain needs”. The arrival of SaaS and online applications has however minimized software compatibility problems with the Apple platform, even if some publishers do not yet play the game with tools that remain in traditional mode such as secure cash, indicates the DSI. There aren’t really commercial applications for property administration, which is why Foncia also develops its own tools, ERP and others. “We have moved from legacy mode to public cloud on AWS, with the use of containers for our latest systems”. If half of the ISD staff is in charge of support, the other half is dedicated to the company’s digital transformation.
For workstation security, Foncia uses a classic EDR, Sophos in this case, Macs offering a good level of security according to Pascal Anquetin. On the OS part, the latter regrets the size of the big updates from Apple. “However, we test and release the updates as soon as they are validated internally, but in teams of 4 to 5 people, the deployment periods are tense”.