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Oktane Day 3 -- Looking to the Beyond

Katie Batten

After three days of training, keynotes, breakout sessions, and labs, Oktane18 has come to an end. From learning about trends in cloud security to discussing how the world’s latest data privacy requirements affect IT leaders far and wide, this week has given us a look at the processes and products that will define security infrastructure in the years to come.

While Oktane18 may have wrapped, we know you’ll be taking three-days worth of cloud identity insights back to your organizations and networks. Here are some of the highlights from the final day of the event.

Who we saw: technology leaders who are paving the way

Frederic Kerrest, Okta’s co-founder and COO, kicked off the morning keynote. He ran through some of the most notable trends happening in Okta’s customer base, remarking that “We’re seeing the half life of technology accelerate before our very eyes.” Drawing on examples from customers including Allergan and MGM Resorts, Kerrest highlighted ways that a number of organizations are revolutionizing their respective industries and spoke of a critical shift in the way people approach IT. “In the past 15 years, we’ve gone from ‘IT doesn’t matter’ to ‘IT is so critical that we’re going to be 250,000 people short’.” Kerrest acknowledged that this is the most exciting time in the history of technology to be a CIO, posing a question to the crowd: “Is today’s CIO tomorrow’s CEO?”

From there, a number of leaders joined the stage to speak of their innovations. Patty Morrison, CIO and EVP, customer support services at Cardinal Health and multi-time CIO of Fortune 500 companies, echoed Kerrest’s sentiments: “Rather than IT needing to learn the business, business leaders need to learn IT.”

21st Century Fox’s global CISO, Melody Hildebrandt, shared her vision for enabling a global team to collaborate and produce the films, broadcasts, and media that millions consume. “We have a philosophy that for the creative process, we need to deliver a best-in-class suite to our users and partners,” she said. “The best applications that users love are not found within a bundled app — we needed an identity strategy that allowed us to break apart those bundles.”

“JetBlue has been on the cloud since day one,” joked EVP and chief digital and technology officer, Eash Sundaram, who joined Kerrest to talk about building seamless, secure customer experiences. He explained that most airlines looked at self-service as passing your problems to your customers, but JetBlue takes a different approach, ensuring their customer experience is personal, helpful, and simple. With seamless customer identity, “it’s fascinating to see how many steps you eliminate to have a frictionless travel experience.”

Splunk’s CIO, Declan Morris, took the time to emphasize the value of having Okta as a partner: “Okta is melted into the background, in a good way. To describe it as a window frame, [with Okta] you don’t actually see the window: you see the view.”

Rich Dandliker, Okta’s VP of product management, and Alex Salazar, VP of product, developer, and integrations ecosystem, led a walk through our product roadmap. We recently announced that the Okta Product Roadmap is now generally available to anyone. If you missed the demo or want to track progress on upcoming features, you can find regular updates here.

What we learned: “trust no one” and lessons in leadership

  • More organizations are adopting a Zero Trust security model and its key principle of "never trust, always verify." Identity and authentication enhance your security posture with less complexity than network-based solutions, something that Forrester principal analyst Dr. Chase Cunningham, Ayotunde Obasanya, head of global infrastructure at Funding Circle, and Okta’s own group product marketing manager of security products, Nick Fisher discussed in a session on the subject. Okta approaches Zero Trust in four key ways: centralizing identity and access control via SSO; ensuring authentication across all services; reducing attack surfaces; and enabling visibility and response to attacks.

Read on: How Okta Delivers a Zero Trust Solution for Customers.

  • Driving bottom-line value through IT initiatives

At this afternoon’s session, Lessons in IT Leadership: Best Practices in Leveraging Emerging Technologies and Delivering Strategic Business Value, Mark Settle, Okta’s CIO, walked attendees through his advice for selling through IT initiatives. For starters, learn from your competitors. “Any intelligence you can bring back on what the competitors are doing is valuable to your business leaders,” he noted. IT teams should also “learn business lessons from themselves,” walking a mile in their end-users’ shoes before developing a detailed project plan. When trying to gain critical stakeholder buy-in — particularly from the CFO — IT leads should structure incremental phases of investment around business proof points. No CFO wants to feel like a project is a black hole with no endpoint in sight; by creating internal milestones, you can demonstrate that your project is on budget and on schedule.

For more insights on IT leadership, read Mark Settle’s book Truth From the Trenches: A Practical Guide to the Art of IT Management.

 

What we heard: technology activates change in organizations and communities


 

In this morning’s keynote presentation, Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of charity:water, shared his goal of bringing clean drinking water to everyone on earth. He asked: “Could we create a way where 100% of the money we funded went to clean water projects?”

“We know right now how to bring clean water to every human being on this planet. We can do it. (...) We haven’t allocated the resources, but we know how to do it.”

Those inspired to find out more about how technology can help bring about social change were encouraged to attend the Tech for Good conversation, during which three changemakers shared personal stories of how they’re using tech to strengthen their communities. As Erin Baudo Felter, executive director of Okta for Good, stated: “The most meaningful change starts not with technology, but with people.” She announced a new partnership with and major grant for Fast Forward to continue supporting social entrepreneurs.

What we did: reframed the outer limits

The closing keynote was delivered by Dr. Mae C. Jemison, a physician and astronaut who served six years as a NASA astronaut and was the first woman of color in the world to go into outer space. Yesterday, Aimee Mullins helped kick off the conference on an inspirational note, asking us to reject our sense of the “impossible” and push ourselves to face adversity. Today, Jemison bookended Oktane18 with an equally-motivational rallying cry — for us to reevaluate what we think we know. She questioned: “Is Mars even extraordinary enough? Mars isn’t that difficult; it’s a technological issue. We’ve been to Mars before, we know its address.” Instead, she wants to explore interstellar travel.

To this end, Jemison leads 100 Year Starship (100YSS), a nonprofit initiative that is aiming to facilitate human travel beyond our solar system to another star within the next 100 years. She urged us to join her in staying curious about space by participating in Look Up, an initiative that asks everyone to share images of the sky on August 28, 2018 to highlight our common humanity as “earthlings”.

What’s next?

The conference itself may be over, but Oktane18’s benefits go far beyond the perimeters of the ARIA Resort & Casino. We’ll be sharing videos of most sessions, so you can catch up on anything you missed, and also posting tips and takeaways on our social channels (follow us @Okta).

We’d love to stay in touch and hear your conference feedback. Reach out to us to learn more about new products and features or join a user group to keep the conversation going. Thanks for joining us in Las Vegas — see you next year!