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Okta to Revamp Partner Program with New Incentives Approach

New channel chief Bill Hustad revealed the new program at Okta's Oktane22 conference.

Jeffrey Schwartz

November 14, 2022

5 Min Read
Incentive
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Following the launch of the Okta Identity Cloud platform, Okta plans to revamp its partner program in the coming months. Okta’s new channel chief, Bill Hustad, revealed the plan to partners last week during the company’s Oktane22 conference in San Francisco.

Hustad offered a broad overview of the new program at Okta’s Partner Summit, held during the Oktane22 event. According to Hustad, Okta’s new partner program will shift to a more modern approach of incentivizing partners.

In his conference keynote address, Todd McKinnon, Okta’s co-founder and CEO, emphasized the role of its partner ecosystem. McKinnon also discussed it during a media briefing.

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Okta’s Todd McKinnon

“We’ve always been super channel friendly and partner-friendly,” he said. “We built pretty good muscle to work well with other companies. And that extends managed service providers and value-added resellers.”

Okta forecast revenue during its current 2023 fiscal year will grow between 39% and 40%, roughly $1.8 billion. The identity services and governance platform provider has approximately 1,200 partners. Many are established systems integrators; others are new to the Okta fold.

XenTegra, a provider of cloud and traditional data center-based desktop as a service (DaaS), added Okta to the mix about a year ago.

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XenTegra’s Andy Whiteside

“If we’re not asking our customers the question around an identity strategy, and challenging them with a solid answer, then we’re failing in our digital workspace go-to-market,” said XenTegra president and CEO Andy Whiteside.

New Partner Incentive Model

Okta’s approach to partner incentives will move away from the current discounting approach. Instead, the incentives will primarily be points-based with a rebate structure.

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Okta’s Bill Hustad

“It’s pure revenue contribution,” Hustad told Channel Futures. “The point-based system is nice because it creates equality. When you think about partners across the value spectrum, those delivering really well, and retaining and upselling, will get a multiplier of what they’re doing from a resale perspective.”

Hustad said Okta plans to launch the new program in February. Like many programs today, he said Okta would reward partners based on the extent they drive customer success. Also, Okta will acknowledge the certifications that partners achieve. The company will equalize that with its points-based system, Hustad added.

“You can imagine we’ll have a new tiering structure that makes sense of all these different pieces,” Hustad explained.

Later this month, Hustad said Okta will make its Customer Identity Cloud training content available to partners.

Partner Experience Improvements

The new program will also address two key areas. First, Hustad said Okta wants to provide an improved partner experience. That will come in the form of enhancements to its partner portal, which runs on Highspot sales-enablement platform.

“We’re going to have a new portal, and we’re going to reinvent the partner directory,” Hustad said. “And I see it more as the partner solutions catalog, which is external that customers and our field team can intersect with to see what partners are doing based on region but offering solutions expertise they have in the market.”

The other area of focus is more about how Okta interacts with its partners.

“We’re going to get a lot better about listening to partners and talking about partners and these changes and what it means to them — what’s working, not working. We’re going to be agile in building on those requirements. Next year will be a pivotal year for us because this is a big change. But it’s going to evolve based on the market.”

Addressing Okta’s New Market Opportunity

Hustad, the former Splunk channel chief, joined Okta roughly four months ago. At the time, Hustad said he decided to join Okta because identity has become the core of providing secure access. While Okta considers itself a partner-focused provider of identity services, last year’s $6.5 billion acquisition of Auth0 expanded its market opportunity.

Before the two companies came together, Auth0 was known as a provider of identity services for consumer applications. Okta has historically focused on enterprise single sign-on and workforce identity management, although it offers a consumer module called Okta Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM). It took 18 months, but the company launched the Okta Customer Identity Cloud and its Workforce Identity Cloud at Oktane22.

Auth0, which provides the customer identity-based authentication platform to companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, has historically operated with a direct sales model. Hustad said the new program would bring partners into the fold. Many organizations with Okta’s Workforce Identity Cloud are candidates for the Auth0-based Customer Identity Cloud.

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BeyondID’s Buck Krawczyk

Partners such as BeyondID, which provides managed identity services founded by former Okta engineers, see companies looking to create more holistic identity platforms.

“Several years ago, customers would be looking for a particular point solution around identity to fix a particular problem,” said BeyondID’s marketing and business development director, Buck Krawczyk. “Now, we’re seeing that this is much more strategic; they’re looking at multiyear initiatives to drive larger business outcomes. It’s not just an IT-based decision. It is involved but now driven at the C level.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Jeffrey Schwartz or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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