Okta Learn from the Masters series

Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Okta Team Cites Internal Coalition and Stakeholder Engagement as Vital for Program Success


Kevin Iwamoto, GLP, GTP | Bizly Senior Advisor

Key Takeaways:  

How to drive high adoption of a small meetings tool:

● Get buy-in from key user groups by including them early in your small meetings initiative

● Give end-users a solution that is easy to use and comes with excellent user support

● Roll-out and training are very important

  • Focus on the solution as a benefit - empowering EAs to add more value

● Make sure you involve and educate your hotel National Account Managers


Okta’s decision coming out of the pandemic to create a self-service technology-based strategy was a direct result of an internal involuntary coalition of program leaders that included travel management veteran, Kathleen Kaden, Global Travel Manager, Vivian Ho, Internal Meetings and Events, and Gerardo Diamante, Travel & Events Specialist.  Together they did the requisite internal due diligence, and effectively used their collective knowledge of Okta’s business and culture to craft a post pandemic strategy and plan for handling small-simple sized meetings.

The main drivers for deciding to move forward were based on numerous trends and needs that were cascading throughout Okta’s infrastructure which was directly and indirectly impacting all three coalition leaders.  Some of those key findings were:

1.       A rapid hiring process that resulted in 70% of their associates being hired during the pandemic.

2.       These associates were hired remotely in the towns that they were living in; Okta wasn’t requiring them to come into their offices in San Francisco or Chicago.

3.       During the pandemic and lockdowns, Okta had a real commitment to making sure that those associates did not feel alone. Coming out of the pandemic, getting people and teams together in a truly meaningful way was a top priority making sure that people met their managers in person, and there were a lot of people that had not met their teammates and colleagues.

4.       As a direct result of the post pandemic need to internally meet and gain familiarity with co-workers and teams, the volume of requests and budget to meet in person was like the floodgates opening, and Okta had limited internal resources to handle the growing demand.

5.       While there was a travel policy pre-pandemic, there were no formal meeting policies, so there was a clear need to develop that before people started traveling and meeting again in full force.

6.       Most hires were Millennial and Gen Z; both generational workforce staffers preferred more self-service, self-enabled solutions when it came to work style preferences.

7.       In addition, Okta executive and administration assistants preferred to be more hands on in meeting planning decisions, so any proposed solutions would have to have their buy-in and adoption to achieve successful results.

The coalition of Kathy, Vivian and Gerardo did an admirable job of gathering data, speaking with stakeholders, identifying the executive needs and priorities, and started to do external research to determine if there was suitable technology that was scalable to meet their current and future needs for sourcing and administration of small-simple meetings at Okta.  Then based on their collective recommendation of a pathway forward, they engaged with internal procurement, legal and HR for approvals and budget. 

"...When you're building a team, don't look to hire people who are like you, look to hire people who are very different and have different views because that's the way you'll build out the best program." – Kathy Kaden


Now the Hard Work Begins

 "There's the Kevin Costner line, if you build it, they will come. But that's not always the case. If you build it, they will come if you give them what they want... So, we had to make sure that’s what we were doing..." – Kathy Kaden

Vivian Ho’s silver bullet was understanding the primary users and adopters of the new small-simple meetings technology and strategy.  Their support and needs were important for success and adoption.  Before the pandemic, Vivian had gained the trust and ears of the executive and administrative assistants so there was an already established relationship in place as a solid baseline for the next step of training and education. 

At this stage of the planning and coordination phase the coalition team had to factor in that whatever the solution was, that the Okta addendums and the terms, (the things they were responsible for) would also be part of the solution for it.  Other opportunities were the savings potential, reducing fraud, and then working with other teams, such as our fiscal security team, making sure that they were in alignment with them.

“In building the business case…we went to each one of these departments (finance, procurement, legal) and got their input on what do they need? What does it look like to you? Making sure that we got their buy-in…” - Kathy Kaden

Training and Service

For Vivian Ho, the primary audience of users were already stakeholders she was engaging with, primarily the Executive Admins and Team Managers.  Some had experience in organizing meetings while others were novice and didn’t know where to begin.  While the core strategy was centered around a self-service technology option, Vivian made sure to communicate that there was additional internal support for the program through contacting her, and/or the Bizly Concierge desk option.  In addition, prior to the launch and during the launch she made sure there were ample training sessions and demos of the platform.  When asked why she thinks they’ve had adoption success, Vivian shared, “I think the fact that the platform is so user friendly and they're not intimidated by it; we've just been fortunate that they've been happy to use it and check it out. And of course, we're always here as a support system... But I think it's just understanding the culture at Okta.”

Final Thoughts

Both Kathy and Vivian emphasized Okta’s cultural imperative of continuous improvement and other potential integrations.  

Other takeaways:

  • Make sure you involve and educate your hotel National Account Managers (NAMs) about what your program is about and get them educated and on board to support you and the program.
  • When you start to think that you need technology to help you, you're probably six months later than you needed for technology to help you.
  • Understand your associates, your stakeholders, and understand your company culture.
  • Leverage your internal and external relationships.
“The entire organization, our structures and our policies are a work in progress, and we're all making that progress together.” – Kathy Kaden

In this clip from Bizly's Learn from the Master's Series, the team at Okta discusses the importance of storing your knowledge base inside of a platform like Bizly.

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