Hello, Okta: Experiencing Identity Theft First-Hand and Realizing Okta’s Opportunity

If you’ve worked in technology as I have for the past 25 years (most recently leading the expansion of DocuSign’s business in EMEA), you know the importance of what we’re doing at Okta. You’ve seen companies push to digitize and transform their customers’ experiences, and realized that every application needs authentication and authorization. You’ve likely run into hurdles when moving to the cloud, bringing on various applications and enabling your mobile workforce with devices. These challenges, and Okta’s opportunity to solve them, make me excited to join Okta as Vice President and General Manager, EMEA.

Securing Identities in an Increasingly Insecure World If you, like me, have had your identity stolen, you understand the value of identity management on a more personal level.

Just last month, I was notified that someone had applied for and obtained multiple credit cards and bank loans using my personal information, thereby committed financial fraud in my name. The amount of time and effort — not to mention concern — that I’ve spent trying to solve this, has opened my eyes to the importance of protecting identities (both in a business and private context)!

Although it’s been a harrowing experience, I will admit my unfortunate experience with identity theft isn’t the reason I joined Okta — I recognized the opportunity for Okta and identity long before I realized fraudulent credit cards had been opened in my name. At Oktane17, I heard our COO and co-founder Frederic Kerrest talk about how cybercrime today is global, highly-organized and more sophisticated than ever. He cited statistics on the 1,700 recorded breaches in 2016, and how 80% of those breached are identity-related (caused by stolen or weak credentials). Europe has always been focused on data privacy and protecting consumer information, but the ante is being upped significantly with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in May 2018. The financial penalties of a GDPR breach will be so significant — up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue — that the effective protection of customer identifies is now a board-level priority, which creates another opportunity for Okta to address a critical business need.

Managing the Extended Enterprise and Transforming the Customer Experience Okta’s addressing several business needs. Being in the SaaS industry for 10 years, I’ve worked with organizations of all sizes that are accelerating their transition to the cloud because it offers significant cost and agility benefits. But it also created new headaches around identifying, securing and managing the lifecycle of user identities across multiple cloud services and on-premises applications. Furthermore, it has become increasingly clear that securing today’s business ecosystem isn’t just about protecting employees. Today, IT needs to manage contractors, partners, suppliers, franchisees and provide all of them with secure access to company resources. Okta has the ability to help customers manage and secure that growing ecosystem.

What’s more, every single organization I’ve worked with in the past decade has been focused on digitizing and improving their interactions with customers online. As every company pushes to become a technology company, organizations of every size and in every region and industry are building mobile, web and API-driven applications, and using technology to transform their customers’ experience. The Okta Identity Cloud enables business leaders and developers to delight and engage customers, while also keeping their information secure.

I’m excited to lead Okta’s EMEA team to pursue these massive opportunities. I’ve been tasked with growing the business in the region and keeping us focused on helping our customers manage the extended enterprise and transform the customer experience. I look forward to working with many of you on just that.

Connect with Jesper on LinkedIn and read more about his role here.