Okta strategic partner survey confirms massive COVID uptick around both collaboration and security

Okta’s partner report is a follow-up to an earlier one done with Okta customers, and the trends are essentially the same.

In April of this year, identity vendor Okta issued a report on how their customers were adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic with their technology choices. It found a big uptick in demand for both security and collaboration. During May, they did a followup report which focused on how these customer changes were impacting Okta’s channel partners. Today, the company is releasing that partner-focused report.

“We all know that people are working from home – that was no mystery,” said Patrick McCue, Okta’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Partners. “However, the Work From Home report gave us insight into specific usage. So we wanted to see what channel partners were seeing around the Work From Home movement, so we would know how the channel was impacted.”

The partner study focused on 55 key Okta strategic partners, over all geographies. Respondents identified as Solution Provider, GSI, Distributor, MSP and Public Sector organizations. Okta tried to get Directors and above to respond, and nearly 50% fit this category. Nearly 15% of respondents represented organizations with more than 5,000 employees.

The partner survey found similar results to the customer one in terms of large growth in the markets for collaboration apps and tools, and security apps and tools. 54% of Solution Provider partners surveyed saw a significant increase in demand for collaboration apps and tools since January, 2020, and 47% of partners saw increased demand for security apps and tools that provide secure access to remote workers.

“A big percentage of partners are seeing an increase in both collaboration as well as security techs like Okta, CrowdStrike and Proofpoint,” McCue said.

McCue considers those numbers about right for their partner base, although he acknowledged that for different types of partners and other types of the market, they could well be higher.

“For most of these core partners, this is their business, so the customers they work with are more likely to have already been building these solutions,” he said. “If this was a new area, the numbers would likely be higher.”

Okta’s Global Systems Integrator partners benefitted from the trend in their larger customers to not only capitalize on the quick burst of business in March created by the perceived need to ‘do something,’ but have been working steadily since crafting long-term access management solutions.

“There is that recognition that the dynamics of work will change forever, and they are designing hybrid models where the people in the workplace building will be treated the same as the people who work from home,” McCue stated.

“Other types of partners are more experts in the technology itself as opposed to the processes of opening an office, but this is something that all these partners will  have to start thinking about, as companies like Google extend their Work From Home period,” McCue added

Among the partner base as a whole, there was a big increase in demand for public sector, which saw a big increase in both collaboration and security trends. This applied across all parts of SLED, with the most popular collaboration app there being videoconferencing.

Significant demand in the remote call centre and customer authentication spaces came from finance and banking. 40% of partners said they saw a significant increase in demand for collaboration apps and tools within finance and banking, while 50% saw a significant increase in demand for security apps and tools.

60% of partners saw a significant increase in demand for collaboration apps and tools within Education, which was the highest increase in demand for all industries within the survey. . 41% of partners saw a significant increase in demand for security apps and tools in Education, and 43% perceived a significant increase in demand for security apps and tools in Government.

Telemedicine was another strong growth area, with 54% of partners seeing a significant increase in demand for collaboration apps and tools, and 46% observing a significant increase in demand for security apps and tools. McCue noted that pre-pandemic, collaboration use in health care was quite limited.

McCue said that a couple types of customer patterns were common.

Patrick McCue, Okta’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Partners

“One is organizations that had never done Work From Home before,” he stated. “They were getting into collaboration in many cases for the first time, with Zoom being a popular one. Many of these customers invested in collaboration right away, but chose to wait on the security piece. The second group were people who had been using both collaboration and security a little but not broadly, and these tended to expand both.”

In the long run, McCue concluded, the collaboration and security applications around Work From Home will drive synergistic growth.

“As those collaboration tools get adopted for the long haul, it will continue to drive demand for security,” he said. “We saw this in the customer survey and it’s nice to validate that our partners are seeing the same type of thing.”

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