Bill Hustad and Todd Parsons have both been with Okta for less than a year, but their plans for the identity vendor’s channel are already coming to fruition.
The SVP of global partners and alliances and A/NZ channel and alliances director, respectively, are looking to invest heavily in bringing out the “developer persona” of partners.
In addition, the vendor is also looking to harness its recent Auth0 acquisition, which Hustad said will see partners talking to different buyers: chief technology officers, chief marketing officers and development officers.
“Those areas are more emerging in nature,” Hustad added.
Speaking to ARN, Hustad who joined Okta in August, said: “I’m changing the thematic approach with partners. We still have to do a lot of work on what we want out of our delivery partners, systems integrators and those types.
“I’m still getting my sea legs based on what I have done before and what’s working with partners in the markets – there are lots of positive things. I want to create more breadth in opportunity that leads to wildly happy customers. These are the customers who are emphatically happy about what they have gained from customers.”
Part of Okta’s global strategy, according to Hustad, means working with partners to build out “that developer persona”. This, Hustad explained, will cover cross-department training and “really figuring out the ease of access, visibility, flexibility and APIs”.
From an incentive perspective, Okta is offering free instances of its technology, so developers can build, test and deploy. “They can have a continuous process then. If you do that in a good way, then you have a ‘matriculation model’ that’s a living system that you can invent on and work through,” said Hustad. “All of these things will help build the developer persona.”
In Australia and New Zealand, Okta’s channel is relatively small, with 100 partners transacting regularly with the vendor.
Meanwhile, Nextgen has exclusive distribution rights for the region, with Okta recently expanding the distributor's portfolio into Asia.
For Parsons, who joined Okta in April, the opportunity is “just enormous in the A/NZ market” and Okta has only “tapped a small part of it”.
“Historically, we have built a channel around the typical security discussion of identity. We have some fantastic relationships with SIs and integrators in that space,” he said.
“As a business today though, we’re thinking about a different conversation, and that’s centred around experiences. Security is the baseline. But how do we use our technologies to create a better work-life experience. How do we give customers the right security posture, but that doesn’t impact the customer experience?
“There are a number of partners in that ecosystem. There are several partners building and managing applications. There are those architecting an environment, and consulting around an outcome.
“We are interested in working with our existing partners and working as well with those who can deliver those experiences. That means we can build the right partner program to address that. We have a really unique opportunity over the next few years. As Australia adopts cloud transformation and the security that wraps around that, we want to have the right partner community to deliver that.”
As Parsons’ own team grows “pretty significantly”, he is now focused on ramping up partner engagements with larger enterprise and corporate clients, as well as the public sector.
“There are some customers who are managing quite significant environments, and it makes sense for us to meet them. There are some partners in our portfolio who may also not want to go on that journey,” he added.
“There are certainly gaps in our coverage model that we want to fill, either with our existing channel or through finding partners in that space who want to work with us.”
Looking ahead, Hustad is hoping to give the channel, both locally and globally, more visibility and exposure to customers and other partners.
Largely, this is intended to come from the Okta Integration Network, which, like other vendor marketplaces, serves to help customers find particular products that customers may want to integrate with other solutions.
“We need to do a much better job of giving visibility to this work,” Hustad added.
“Partners have multi-year relationships with customers. They go through good and hard times in helping them be successful. We want to make sure we are honouring the relationship partners have with customers. And we want them to help demonstrate why identity is an important solution.”
“Identity is an accelerator for adoption,” he continued. “It gives you the ability to have confidence in your security stance. The faster you can get artefacts you your internal team and your end user, the faster adoption you will see. And that’s how partners win: if they can get better adoption and retention in what they build, they will gain value.”