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Fidelis Channel Chief: Messaging, Portal Keys to Partner-Program Growth

Edward GatelyFidelis Cybersecurity’s new vice president of channel sales said there’s room to grow in all areas of the company’s partner program, but he wants to maintain “significant discipline” about adding new partners.

Scott Collins was appointed to fuel the expansion of Fidelis’ global partner network. He previously was director of FireEye’s Americas channel sales, where he led a team of more than 20 people and played a key role in architecting, maturing and executing the company’s partner program.

Fidelis' Scott CollinsFidelis provides products and services for detecting and stopping advanced cyberattacks. It previously was General Dynamics’ commercial cybersecurity division until Marlin Equity Partners bought it in May 2015.

Prior to his tenure at FireEye, Collins established the partner program at Zscaler. Earlier, he held channel and sales leadership positions at Cisco (previously IronPort), Blue Coat Systems and McAfee.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Collins talks about what attracted him to Fidelis and how he plans to work with partners to address their needs.

Channel Partners: Why did you want to leave FireEye to take this position with Fidelis?

Scott Collins: If you look at my background, I’m kind of a startup guy … and I like to build things, particularly channels. I was really impressed by everybody I met at the company and in particular the executive team. And in order to be successful building a channel program, you’ve got to have executive support, and you can sense when it’s really there. In this case, I’m fully convinced that the executive team is committed to the requisite investment, so seeing that and seeing the growth prospects for the company, and in this wonderful cybersecurity space we’re in, I thought there’s just a great opportunity here for me professionally and for Fidelis as well.{ad}

CP: More than a year ago, General Dynamics shed its commercial cybersecurity division, which was Fidelis Cybersecurity. What are your thoughts on its progress since the ownership switch?

SC: When you’re selling aggressively into the commercial space like we are, you’ve got to be a very, very nimble company, and being a standalone company provides that opportunity to be very nimble. As we all understand, it’s sometimes more difficult when you’re amidst a much larger organization to do the things that you need to do to adapt to the pace of change of the market. There’s been a lot of maturation and evolution toward being …

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… nimble and being able to adapt very quickly. 

CP: What is your assessment of Fidelis’ partner program? How do you plan to grow the global partner network?

SC: Today, I’m North America and that may change in the future. As I look at it, whether it’s a SI, an MSSP or trusted advisor, consultancies or VARs, we’ve got room to grow in all of these areas. And I will say that our channel today is very young, we’re not oversubscribed and we’re not going to oversubscribe. We’ve seen that folly so many times in the past, to just go out and sign up a bunch of partners. We want to be very prescriptive about who we want to bring on, and I think that’s just out of respect to the investment that all of these partners have made already that exist and the partners in the future that are going to make that investment.

And we’re making investments in channel operations. We’re hiring a new channel marketing person, and our field sales teams, which have grown significantly over the past six to nine months, we’ve been hiring aggressively. And we’re also honing the partner program in a way that, at the end of the day, we have very highly differentiated technology and we need a highly differentiated partner program as well. While today we have a very solid foundation, in this business the partner is going to look at us and say “OK, how profitable can I be with Fidelis, how quickly do I want to grow with them, how much investment do I want to make,” and you have to have a partner program that can help them answer those questions. So I think that’s a critical part of the growth mechanism.

CP: What are the biggest issues currently facing Fidelis and what will be your role in addressing them?

SC: The company is in good shape; we’re growing, we’re hiring. The cybersecurity problems that we face today can get very complex and oftentimes it takes an equally complex product to solve those problems. We have a unique technology stack that really does address today’s cybersecurity threats very thoroughly. Having said that, there are so many end users that oftentimes don’t have the security expertise to address the complexity of the security issues and the technology. So when you look at that, what we’re trying to do is, what tools can we give our partners to message out to end users more efficiently and more effectively about the problems that we solve and how we solve them? So as I look at my role fundamentally, it’s “How do we hone our messaging and provide tools to the partners, including enablement, to take that honed message to scale …

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… our business and to scale their businesses?” as well.

CP: What do you see as your most immediate tasks in this role?

SC: Probably most immediate is the channel (program) marketing piece. To build a world-class partner program, you need a sophisticated partner portal, you need clear, clean, consistent messaging, and those are areas of improvement that we are already addressing right now.

CP: How do you think Fidelis’ partner program and partner strategy will look a year from now, in three to five years?

SC: I would say that we’re going to build a program that rewards partners for the value that they provide. That’s just a fundamental tenant of any partner program. We have some foundations today, but as we move forward, I would say a year from now, we would look to fortify that program quite a bit. And in addition to that, enablement is a huge piece for us. As a young company, that’s an area that we really need to focus on. So as I look at it today, we just haven’t been able to scale the enablement platform to where we need to get it in a sophisticated market space. So I would point to those areas that will materially change over the next year.

CP: Have you received any feedback yet from Fidelis partners? What are they saying about the company and its partner program?

SC: The feedback has been, “We love Fidelis technology, we want to know more about the brand, about the company.” That’s one area from a partner perspective. Where is your partner brand and we need more touch from you.

SC: What do you want the channel to most know about you and what working with you will be like?

Collins: All the partners that I’ve dealt with in the past know me to be very transparent, and I think it’s critical in this type of a role that you do as you say you’re going to do, as a sales leader and as a company. I’m going to be knocking on a lot of doors of partners that I’ve worked with in the past and I think they would back that up. I think transparency is very key, to tell the partners here’s what we’re doing, here’s what we’re planning to do, what is your feedback, what are your thoughts, and invite them in as decision makers and stakeholders in the respective partnership.

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