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Rosetta Stone on Oktane: Why Storytelling, Takeaway Tips and a Bonus NFL Win Have Me Coming Back For Oktane14

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The countdown to Oktane14 has begun! Over the past few weeks, we’ve been sharing guest posts from our amazing customers about their experiences at Oktane and why they’re looking forward to this year’s conference. Take a look and follow along with Oktane on Twitter with #Oktane14.

From George Hegedus, Senior Director of System Operations at Rosetta Stone: 2013 was a fast and furious year when it came to cloud apps at Rosetta Stone. And if it wasn’t for Okta, life would have been a little more difficult for our IT organization.

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Coming into 2013, we’d already had Salesforce for a number of years and had implemented Box the previous autumn, but we were still a long way to go in our cloud adoption. In early 2013, we purchased Okta and Google Apps – cloud-based app use had grown exponentially to support our employees’ mobile lifestyles. We realized an identity management solution was the best way to provision users with new apps, manage a proliferation of usernames and passwords and, of course, secure our IT infrastructure. We launched both Okta and Google Apps at the same time, which led our employees to Okta for all cloud sign-on needs – and thanks to its simple and user-friendly approach, the implementation was an instant success.

The remainder of the year saw the implementation of Concur, Workday, Xactly, DocuSign and BlueJeans – all launched within Okta’s Application Network. Later, we moved many on-premises and proprietary apps into Okta. Our internal Rosetta Stone product for employees has found a home in Okta, with improved user adoption of all of our apps.

Like other Okta customers, I had a story to tell about the work that we’d done together and the impact it had on our business, and I decided to share that story at Oktane13. (Plus, it had been years since I had been out on the west coast, and a trip to chat Okta in San Francisco sounded awesome.) I knew heading into the event that there would be other interesting stories about identity and the shift to cloud and mobile – and Oktane exceeded my expectations.

My days were filled with informative sessions, and I was able to make connections with IT colleagues all over the country. Not only did I have a chance to share our story at Rosetta Stone, but I also took away tips and tricks from other customers and the Okta technical staff that have helped us improve our own processes at Rosetta Stone.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Putting a face to a name: I arrived Sunday afternoon and immediately met up with Phil Heyneker, Courtney Skay and Alyssa Smrekar from Okta to rehearse my presentation. I had been emailing all three, but it meant a lot to meet them in person. The happy hour later that day was also a great place to mingle and meet other customers and members of the Okta team. It was low-key but energetic, and a great way to start making connections.

  • Todd and Frederic kick things off with customer success: Both Todd and Frederic’s keynotes were an excellent way to kick off the two days of sessions. They had a consistent message on customer success – if you listen to customers, the technology will align accordingly. Not only do we follow this idea of putting people first at Rosetta Stone, but it reminded me of the support Okta provided us as we implemented these other cloud systems. (I’ll also always remember how Todd persuaded his family to start Okta with the most influential tool possible – a PowerPoint presentation.)

  • Hearing from other customers: The customer sessions I attended were also extremely valuable. I clearly remember the sessions from Dan Backer and Karen Huffman at National Geographic and Evan Trent at School of Rock in particular, who offered great insights on implementation and innovative ways to support organizations.

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    Quite the party: To top it off, the bowling party at Lucky Strike was a ball. Too often do you spend an entire conference in or very close to your hotel. We were able to mix and mingle down by the ballpark, getting a better feel for San Francisco, and meet the people that had been so helpful and friendly all day. And an unexpected bonus to the evening was watching the Bears beat the Packers on Monday night, particularly exciting for a Chicago native like myself.

But the real highlight of the party (and a major bonus from the whole conference) was sitting at dinner and chatting with Okta’s support team. They definitely appreciated hearing how valuable their support is and what their product can do for our success. As an ops guy myself, it’s easy to forget your value when you spend your days trying to put out fires. Prior to Okta, the IT team at Rosetta Stone spent a majority of our day helping users get access to new cloud apps, troubleshooting bugs and responding to hundreds of password reset tickets. Sharing our success with the support team reaffirmed everything that we’re able to do with Okta, reminding me of the increase in productivity our users receive, and the added time IT can spend improving the business instead of fighting fires.

Overall, it was a week filled with great keynotes, in-depth sessions and amazing connections made in a fantastic environment. Luckily, Oktane14 is less than a week away -- and I’m looking forward to building new relationships, checking out more informative keynotes and investigating practical case studies that I can bring home to DC and the rest of the team at Rosetta Stone.