Okta introduces new channel chief as company prepares to expand into major new markets

Steve Dodenhoff takes over as leader of Okta’s channel business with extensive experience from the solution provider side of the business, including the last eight years at Insight North America, where he was President.

Steve Dodenhoff, SVP of Worldwide Partners and Alliances, Okta

Okta has announced the appointment of Steve Dodenhoff as their new SVP of Worldwide Partners and Alliances. He replaces Patrick McCue, who is still at Okta for the transition period, but will be departing once it has ended. Dodenhoff will report to CRO Steve Rowland within Okta’s Worldwide Field Operations organization.

Dodenhoff has an unconventional background for a channel leader. For the past eight years, he has been President of Insight North America, where he presided over the transformation of the company’s practice units to the modern contours of digital transformation. Most of this career before Insight has also been with solution providers, including a decade at MicroAge.

“I believe that I’m extremely well suited for the role, given that I led a very large global solution provider,” Dodenhoff told ChannelBuzz. “With my background, I wear the hat of all our partners and potential partners, and understand the demand on them to evolve in those markets like cloud, IoT, and mobility. I’m hopeful that perspective was why I was a good fit.”

Dodenhoff said that having a good grasp of the channel and its needs is especially important given the enormous amount of transition the channel itself is experiencing.

“The channel has changed dramatically in the last 3-4-5 years,” he stated. “It has had to evolve to support their customers’ needs. The tech partners who are now highly relevant to customers are quite different from traditional partners.  SaaS is now critical. Cloud Service Providers play an increasing role in stitching together multi-cloud strategies. The ecosystems and partnerships aren’t the same as they used to be. It’s not a one-to-one any more, from the OEM to the partner, who sells it.

“Four to five years ago the customer picked their technology standard, and it was on-prem, and they managed it,” Dodenhoff continued. “Security wasn’t overly complex. In my view, the last 3-4 years have created tremendous change and opportunity for customers, and that puts pressure on channels that serve them to evolve as well.”

Okta has added impetus for its partners to evolve with the announcement at their Okta 21 event earlier this month of their forthcoming entry into two new markets, privileged access management {PAM] and identity governance administration [IGA].

“The new products will come online in FY 23 for us, so there’s a bit of time,” Dodenhoff said. “The first priority is to understand which partners in our current ecosystem have those practice areas now, or who wants to move in. Our first priority is helping our existing partners who want to grow with us. Some partners just want to sell services. Some are into certain segments of the market, or managed services. Some are end to end. There are room for all of these as long as we map it around our routes to market, and we will work on that mix as a part of that whole strategy.”

“It is clear given the new product announcements that we will have to be intensively focused on partners’ aspirations and capabilities and how we can help them build those to support our growth,” Dodenhoff added. “Our vision is to be THE identity platform – and we will have to be intimate with that partner ecosystem with the right capabilities to meet the customers where they are at.”

Dodenhoff said that his immediate task is to both drive this vision while bringing himself up to speed on Okta’s channel.

“I’m here to learn and make sure I know the organization,” he said. “We also have a current business to run and have to deliver on our Fiscal Year requirements. We have an obligation to think strategically about where company wants to go in next 2-3-4 years. and make sure partner strategy aligns to support that strategy. That involves clarity, consistency and focus, to make sure partners are clear about our goals and objectives. Especially with the new products, we have told them the  partner ecosystem will grow and evolve.”

Don’t look for big changes in Okta’s channel program, however.

“People have been asking what will change with the programs,” Dodenhoff indicated. “We have a very good foundation, and it is our expectation to build on that. As Okta continues to grow in the identity space, our percentage of business done through partners will hopefully continue to increase, but it will be segmented because partners have unique areas of expertise. We are also likely to have more digitally-oriented solution providers and creatives as partners going forward.

“It’s an exciting time to be in Okta and part of the ecosystem,” Dodenhoff concluded. “Our vision of identity as part of a platform serves customers best interests as they onboard new applications and new workloads. Simplifying that for clients is critical. Okta is well positioned to be able to do that, and our partnerships will be a part of that growth and success.”