W.J. Bradley on Oktane: Don’t Be a Wallflower

The countdown to Oktane14 has begun! In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing guest posts from our amazing customers about their experiences at Oktane and why they’re looking forward to this year’s conference. Follow along on the Okta blog and on Twitter with #Oktane14.

++

From Adam Steed, Enterprise Architect at W. J. Bradley: They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I’d argue it also takes a community to get the most out of any given technology.

My experience with Okta is a prime example of that. As knowledgeable, passionate and diligent the Okta team is 362 days of the year, they find a way to take it up a notch for the three days of Oktane. In addition to sharing best practices, explaining new use cases and offering hands-on technical training, Okta also puts a spotlight on peer-to-peer learning to ensure customers leverage their investments in the ways that make the most sense for them. I’m excited to see that continue for #Oktane14 – with 30+ customer sessions and a few “birds of a feather” networking lunches already on the agenda.

Too Much for A Glossy Handout

I found attendees to be all over the Okta “spectrum” last year – many long-term customers (like my company, W.J. Bradley), but also a bunch that were using Okta for a single web application like Office365 or Box, and even those that had not purchased Okta yet. I was quick to tout some of the greatest advantages of using Okta, many of which weren’t listed on the glossy handouts, and encourage them to attend customer sessions that covered the use cases. Some of these include:

  • **How using SWA really does reduce the amount of calls to the help desk

  • **Having SWA applications’ passwords controlled by the helpdesk can allow for greatly increased security by setting 24 character randomly generated passwords

  • **Utilizing Okta Enterprise to keep all the attributes in Active Directory synced with Workday has greatly reduced the number of hours needed to maintain Active Directory

  • **Having Active Directory synced with Workday has increased the demand for applications that are not web based to integrate into Active Directory

  • Having the helpdesk manage SWA passwords so when a user leaves the company, if they can’t log in to Okta, they can’t log in to their web applications

  • How Okta, in some cases, can replace Active Directory

[**This is also a shameless plug to attend my upcoming Oktane14 session at 10:45am on Tuesday, November 11 and learn more about how we’ve done the asterisked items at W.J. Bradley.]

Don’t Be a Wallflower

So, how do you get the most out of Oktane this year? Simply put, don’t be a wallflower.

One of the big problems with system administrators is that often times, we aren’t very social people. (I’m the first to come clean. It just doesn’t come naturally.) By bringing together hundreds of other professionals dealing with similar challenges and opportunities related to IDaaS, we all need to take the bull by the horns and use this as an opportunity to network. I challenge everyone to set a personal goal of handing out 20 business cards (so don’t forget to bring a stack) or increasing your LinkedIn network by 40 connections in the 72 hours of Oktane.

I’d also suggest making the most of your time outside of sessions. I saw way too much focus on the food at meals and not enough meaningful interactions at meals and events. Some of the very best information I gained last year came from lunch or breakfast conversations. While some might find it very difficult to lead the conversation at the entire table around common issues or areas of success that you personally have had with IDaas, force yourself to participate. Opportunities to get honest feedback from our peers outside the presence of a vendor are rare. Take advantage of them. (Don’t be afraid to excuse an Okta employee from your table if you find yourself apprehensive about talking openly and honestly about the product or alternatives. They’ll happily oblige.)

And if you find in talking with others that you have come up with a unique solution or a resolution to a common issue, you owe it the broader customer community to share that knowledge. Whether it’s simply in conversation or starting a new thread on the Okta Community following the event, don’t withhold it. It takes a community, remember?

After talking with numerous people last year, I found that I had some unique knowledge on fixing common issues in Active Directory and sharing that knowledge with others improve the success of an Okta deployment. (Hence, the session I’m giving. Again, shameless plug.)

In short, scout out the Oktane sessions you’d like to attend, harass the speakers over morning coffee and take advantage of the experts around you. And if putting yourself out there isn’t your thing, I totally understand if you see me at a meal and decide to sit at a different table.