I’ve learned a few things over the years, about technology, people, companies and customers. When choosing my next adventure, I was set on four things: (#1) joining a company that has product-market fit (#2) joining a great team, (#3) going somewhere I can add a ton of value, and (#4) building something important. Some thoughts on these:
Finding product market fit is really, really hard — really fun, but really hard. During short meetings I had with OneLogin, great customers kept signing up, as I sat there and watched. Definitely post fit.
I wanted a team that ran on trust and empowerment, had a bias for speed and success, but most importantly, was customer centric. More on that below.
I have been working with identity problems in the enterprise as a matter of course over 15 years. Because customers needed it for the other value I was delivering. At Plumtree/BEA we knitted together hundreds of systems for customers, at SAP we were bridging the cloud and enterprise worlds in seamless ways. And in both places I loved building product and engineering teams to create ecstatic customers.
Identity management not only addresses a critical need for companies, it opens the door to huge additional value that we can explore over time.
There is a lot of ink around the concept “customer centric” these days, even though it is not a new notion. There are many ways to define it, but mine will be brief: having a burning desire to make your customers successful. Because to rip through an industry you need to build on a base of passion, and that has to come from your customer community.
The beauty of this criterion is I can evaluate a company on it quickly, from multiple reference points:
- I listen to every word that is said. Regardless of whom I was talking to at OneLogin, the conversation was peppered with customer stories, and these stories clearly meant something to the person speaking.
- I see if customers describe great customer service without being prompted – it is rare enough that they will if there is reason to. And customers love OneLogin, citing the fantastic support again and again.
- I engage with the company myself to get a secret shopper viewpoint. Bonus: this can be a lot of fun.
All reference points told a common story – OneLogin is relentlessly customer driven. Which explains their amazing customer retention, perhaps the most critical metric of any SaaS company.
Building Something Important
When I was at SAP, security was a very serious consideration. As a result, officially employees were not allowed to use unauthorized cloud applications – otherwise company secrets could be compromised. So the classic “shadow IT” scenario flourished – we used plenty of cloud systems, below the radar.
As cloud apps have penetrated almost every company, both above and below the radar, companies need to empower their employees to be productive with these tools, yet manage the real security threat that proper identity management solves. Enter OneLogin – trivial to set up (I set it up on my Google App domain in minutes), yet deeply powerful. From Single Sign On, to provisioning and de-provisioning of applications, to SOX compliance, it gets it done with ease.
But that is just the beginning.
Once you have the federated identity situation nailed, all sorts of value can be layered on top. For example, take federated search. Using your various identities across your apps, now you can search for documents and information regardless of where they live. This doesn’t require complex index building, just issuing parallel queries to the various apps, using your identity in each query. At UniversityNow, I never remembered whether a document was in Yammer or Box or Dropbox, and with a solution like this I wouldn’t need to.
For a technology company to be relevant 10 or 100 years from now, it needs to provide a critical utility around which value will concentrate — enterprise identity is one such utility. It also needs to be customer centric, with evidence of speed and agility. All of which rings true at OneLogin. So I’m thrilled that I’ve begun my next adventure here. And I’m already having fun.