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Hey, Get Off My Turf!

Angry Businessman

Lorna GareyWinnowing down more than 50 entries to just 25 winners for the spring 2017 Channel Partners 360° Business Value Awards was especially challenging for the editorial staff. Not that I’m complaining — we have a lot of first-timers in the mix, which should make for great networking at the revamped awards reception. What made us spend a little extra time is the sheer variety of technologies brought to bear by the winning partners. Solutions mixing and matching everything from SD-WAN to AWS to UCaaS to proprietary “secret sauce” offerings drove home that the lines between agent, CSP, consultant, MSP and VAR business models are getting blurrier by the day. Your suppliers are also branching out. AT&T says it’s now software-defined, Avaya is in the IoT business … heck, even Amazon is on the prowl, challenging Microsoft and UCaaS specialists for a slice of the video-conferencing market.

This is my fifth time judging, and the evolution is striking.

The 2112 Group’s 2017 Channel Forecast shows partners are aligning their businesses to the reality of digital transformation. One of Larry Walsh’s top-level findings is that partners are transitioning their operations to focus on what 2112 calls the “Interconnected World” — the digital fabric connected by cloud computing, mobility, big data, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and automation.

So, if you, like our 360° winners, are out grabbing new turf, how do you convince customers that you can go beyond phone and Internet to protecting their data or providing an IoT bundle? And once you get the sale, how do you execute with both a high level of excellence and a comfortable profit margin?

We baked answers to those questions into our upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Consider FiveSky’s Luanne Tierney talking how to sell next-gen tech, or Avant’s Drew Lydecker leading a deep dive on SD-WAN. Lifesize CEO Craig Malloy will reveal three sure ways to grow your customer base, and Continuum’s Michael Barnes will match that with three ways to grow your line card in a smart way.

To me, though, one of the best ways to win trust and fend off a competitor’s land grab is to include a security consultation in every offering. As we’ll discuss at the show, Allied Market Research says the global managed security market will reach $29.9 billion by 2020, making assessing customer risk a major opportunity.

There’s no such thing today as a service that doesn’t need to be hardened.

Proof? You might have heard that the annual RSA conference was held last week — watch for a gallery of some top security startups soon. While we’re hoping to hit 5,600 participants in Vegas, there were reportedly some 56,000 people in San Francisco for RSAC. A fair number of them may be eyeing your turf, thinking that leading with a plan to stop ransomware or make compliance a bit easier is a good way to get a foothold.

So I’ll leave you with a three notable channel-focused items from RSA that can help you up your security game:

CounterTack and Trustwave announced the Trustwave Managed Detection and Response for Endpoints, a managed security service that bundles CounterTack’s Endpoint Threat Platform into a cloud-based service. Gartner says Trustwave is now the fastest-growing managed security services provider, ahead of Dell SecureWorks. (CounterTack’s CTO, Mike Davis, will join us in Las Vegas to discuss IoT security. After the session, grab him for details.)

Another endpoint protection provider, Webroot, took top honors in the Best Customer Service Category at the SC awards dinner and presentation at the show. The company has a deal with Kaseya for RMM.

Security pros are hard to find. Given how much partners depend on suppliers for customer support, when adding a new security vendor, request metrics like a net promoter score. When Palo Alto Networks announced updates to its NextWave channel program, Todd Palmer, VP, Americas Channel Sales, highlighted the program’s high approval rating. At RSA, Palo Alto CEO Mark McLaughlin presented a keynote where he focused on the future prospects of a bunch of best-of-breed products (think consolidation). McLaughlin said 72 percent of companies have no idea what their security posture is.

At the show, Teramind, which helps stop insider threats, announced an expanded partner program. The cloud-based or on-premises service offers endpoint and user activity monitoring, and the company is looking for VARs, resellers and MSPs.

I also wrote this week about Intel Security’s new cloud data, launched at RSA, that shows customers overwhelmingly trust public cloud services and are moving aggressively away from purely on-premises IT. The average time before respondents expect 80 percent of their IT budgets to be spent on cloud? Just 15 months.

So yes, change is coming fast, and you can’t depend on customers or competitors recognizing established borders. What’s your plan to grab and hold turf?

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.


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