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Working Differently: A Challenge the CEA Defied in a Matter of Months—with Talkspirit

Travailler autrement : un défi relevé en quelques mois par le CEA, avec Talkspirit
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How can an organization streamline collaborative work when faced with strict security constraints? This is the challenge taken up by the CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), which adopted the Talkspirit collaborative platform in the summer of 2020 for its civilian activities. The goal of this digital workplace is to make collaboration within the teams more fluid and improve the employee experience.

Created in 1945, the CEA is a public research organization and the leading public innovation organization in Europe. 

Key figures:

  • Four areas of intervention: 
    • defense and security
    • nuclear and renewable energies
    • technological research for industry 
    • basic research
  • 20,000 employees: 15,000 in the civilian branch and 5,000 in the military branch
  • Nine research centers throughout France

Céline Massy, IS Digital Transformation Architect and Assistant to the Director of Information Systems, talks about the implementation of Talkspirit within the CEA. She also explains how the tool has simplified communication and collaboration between employees of the civilian branch.

A digital workplace at the service of employees

Aware of the need to accelerate its digital transformation and modernize its collaborative tools, the CEA embarked on a large-scale project in 2020 to set up a digital workplace for its employees. The twofold challenge was to facilitate information sharing and centralize exchanges between the various tools of the civilian branch (15,000 employees).

“Within this digital workplace, we wanted to deploy several types of tools, including a collaborative platform, process automation and digitalization tools, and API platforms. 

Given our needs for collaboration and communication, the priority was first given to the implementation of a collaborative suite,explains Céline Massy.

A benchmark turned upside down by the Covid crisis

“We first benchmarked different collaborative tools, including Slack, Teams, WIMI, Jitsi, Mattermost, and Talkspirit. The evaluation of the different solutions was based on technical, security and user experience criteria.

Then came COVID.

Pressed for time, we opted for Microsoft Teams, while keeping in mind that we had to find an alternative quickly. Indeed, Microsoft Teams is an American tool and is subject to the Cloud Act*, so it’s not secure enough to host the CEA’s sensitive data.

Also read: Talkspirit, Best Alternative to Microsoft Teams?

High security requirements

Due to the nature of its activities, the CEA is subject to strong security constraints that require it to use highly secure and GDPR compliant solutions. This is why the CEA quickly eliminated platforms from its benchmark that could allow external access to its data (such as Teams and Slack).

As a Europe-based data center not being subject to the U.S. Cloud Act, Talkspirit protects the confidentiality of all its customers’ data and conducts regular functional audits to test the robustness of its platform—already a strong argument for the CEA. 

Also read: Talkspirit Guarantees the Security of Your Data

The choice of a user-friendly and secure tool

Taking its study of European players a step further, the CEA finally chose Talkspirit to replace Microsoft Teams. Talkspirit is a French software company founded in 2008 by Philippe Pinault and Olivier Ricard. It is a solid choice, with more than 500 customers, including a number of public institutions such as the French Army, the CNRS, the CNES, and several CPAMs. Several elements made the difference, notably security, data hosting in Europe, and the solution’s ergonomics.

“We needed a collaborative suite that was easy to use, ergonomic, met our security constraints, and was GDPR compliant. Talkspirit ticked all the boxes!” says Céline Massy.

Also read: 8 Key Tips for Choosing a Collaborative Platform

Quick deployment and adoption

The rollout was gradual but steady. At first, we implemented the platform in small work groups. Next, we opened it up to the IT department and to the business lines, moving from 30 to 300 users—then quickly on to several thousand. It all went very, very quickly,” explains the IS Digital Transformation Architect. 

Six months after the start of the deployment, the platform already has 5,500 users, with nearly 2 out of 3 users active each month.

“The feedback from users is very positive. Some use it more than others, of course. For example, we have an entity focused on digital transformation where employees are really won over.”

Great freedom for users

From the very start of the deployment, employees have enjoyed a great deal of freedom of use

“Initially, we created two main user groups: one for corporate communication, and another FAQ group called the ‘Tech Center.’ We let users create their own groups,” allowing them to get a grip on the tool independently.

“Within ISD, we created groups for study projects and research projects to share documents and discuss with various stakeholders more easily.

Key success factors 

For Céline Massy, four key elements contributed to the success of the deployment: 

  • anticipation of employee needs by the IT department
  • the involvement of employees in the choice and testing of tools
  • the freedom given to users on the platform
  • the support of Talkspirit’s teams

We were very well supported. Talkspirit organized remote workshops for the functional administrators, and then sessions to help us understand the different features of the platform,” she says.

Thanks to this partnership, a genuine closeness has been created between the two structures, which has allowed Talkspirit to gain a particular attention to the needs of the CEA.

A constantly improving telecommuting tool

“Before the pandemic, the CEA was not very accustomed to telecommuting. Talkspirit made it easier to implement this new way of working. Today, users have taken the reflex to share all information directly on the platform,” thereby simplifying remote collaboration.

The CEA particularly appreciates Talkspirit’s continuous improvement approach. 

Chat, groups, and the cloud service are all widely used internally already, but clients are nonetheless eagerly awaiting other new features. “We are looking forward to using Outlook’s calendar synchronization, and gradually increasing the number of participants in videoconferences,” adds Céline Massy. These new features should be available this year on Talkspirit.

The ambitions of the CEA

In the short term, the goal is to deploy Talkspirit on a larger scope on the civilian side and open the platform to our research partners.

Indeed, until now, we’ve tended to favor the CEA’s employees at the level of licenses. But we now want to create mixed communities composed of CEA employees and partner entities like CNRS, INSERM, or INRIA.

We’ve just ordered 10,000 licenses. Eventually, the idea is to go up to 15,000 users—but not just CEA users.”

Talkspirit’s eye on the CEA’s challenges

Facilitating internal communication and teamwork is a real challenge for an organization with strong security constraints, especially when employees are working remotely.

Thanks to the digital workplace, it is now possible to centralize exchanges between different applications, and to facilitate the sharing of information remotely. However, in order to protect the confidentiality of the data exchanged, it is necessary to ensure that each of the components of this virtual office is secure and complies with the GDPR

Also read: How the Digital Workplace is Transforming the Employee Experience

100% designed and hosted in France, Talkspirit meets the collaboration and communication needs of companies and public organizations while guaranteeing maximum data security. As a developer on the human scale, we constantly listen to our customers’ suggestions and offer personalized support to help you deploy your collaborative platform.


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Want to find out more about the challenges of the CEA’s digital transformation? Watch the replay of our webinar “Methodology and Tools for a Successful Digital Transformation” to discover Céline Massy’s testimonial in video.

*The CLOUD Act allows federal law enforcement to compel U.S.-based technology companies via warrant or subpoena to provide requested data stored on servers, regardless of whether the data are stored in the U.S. or on foreign soil (including the E.U.) (Source: Wikipedia)


Author: Emmanuelle Abensur


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