Even in the midst of high expectations, Okta's (NASDAQ:OKTA) fiscal 2020 fourth-quarter financial report was still better than many anticipated. Revenue grew 45% year over year during the quarter, while its adjusted net loss also improved. Both numbers came in well above expectations.

The company's strong financial results have driven its stock up more than 40% over the past year, even after the recent market sell-off. Yet, for all the stellar growth the company has generated, evidence suggests that this may be just the early innings.

Here are three reasons Okta is at the beginning of a long runway, and its growth is just getting started.

A hooded hacker in a darkened room full of computers, monitors, and cables.

Image source: Getty Images.

App use is growing

Shareholders are probably well-versed in Okta's impressive customer growth. The company added 550 new customers last quarter, bringing the tally to 7,950, an increase of 30% year over year. Even more important was that Okta added 142 new customers with contract values worth more than $100,000, which grew to a total of 1,467, up 41% compared to the prior-year quarter. 

What investors may not know, however, is that the average app usage per customer is growing as well. Within its existing customer base, the average number of Okta apps used per client climbed to 88, an increase of 6% year over year and up 21% from three years ago.

In an interview, CEO Todd McKinnon pointed to this as a serious competitive advantage. "In general, my observation is that investors underestimate the complexity of customers' environments by quite a lot," he said. 

The need for identity verification is exploding

This complexity also extends to what McKinnon refers to as "app diversity." Businesses, especially enterprise-level companies, are employing more and more outside apps from a variety of sources to compete more effectively. As an example, he pointed to one of its customers that has tens of thousands of such apps -- and each needs identity verification at login.

Okta is capitalizing on this app diversity, which is causing an exploding number of external app use cases. These cases highlight the value of its digital-identity and access-management solutions, which provide single sign-on and multi-factor authentication, connecting people to the right applications and devices.

On the company's fourth-quarter conference call, McKinnon said one customer is moving a whopping 8,000 applications to Okta's solution, highlighting the company's growing opportunity.

Competitors are also customers

Each of these previous factors highlights yet another reason Okta will continue to grow. Some of the company's biggest competitors are also its biggest customers. McKinnon used Microsoft to illustrate this point: "Microsoft is probably our most important partner -- and they're a competitor for sure, but they're also an important partner," he said.

Internal data reveals that the business application used most by Okta's customers is Microsoft Office 365. "If you look at our data, 77% of our customers who use Office 365 also use Slack ... or another best-in-breed app. [Microsoft does] have a competing product, but we've found that it seems to be pretty oriented on Microsoft technologies. That's basically why we're able to compete effectively with them." 

More to come

Data breaches have become a fact of life in recent years, and companies are doing their best to stem the tide of unauthorized access to their systems. "More than 70% of hacking-related breaches are caused by stolen credentials," according to McKinnon, making Okta's technology even more critical to a growing number of businesses.

In less than three years since its IPO, Okta stock has soared almost 400%, and those gains could be just the beginning.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.