Recently executed research by Enterprise Strategy Group(tm) (ESG) surveyed 700 IT decision makers to better understand where IT buyers plan to invest in 2022 and 500 partners to learn how their businesses are evolving. Kevin Rhone (ESG Channel Acceleration Practice Direct) spoke to partner executives Jean-David Lehmann and Craig Halliwell (Red Canary) to share their insights and hear their responses. Here are a few highlights from their discussion.
As enterprise technology spending increases, attention on Security
The enterprise technology spending rebound will continue as organizations look to accelerate digital transformation – that’s the key trend percolating throughout Enterprise Strategy Group’s 2022 Technology Spending Intentions Survey. Data and operations security is the top priority for tech decision-makers. Ransomware attacks are of particular concern, with 46% of respondents identifying ransomware readiness as one of their top five business priorities.
Technology partnership teams are working hard to adapt to growing spending, both in terms their services and the way they bring them to market.
“[our strategy] has evolved quickly from a traditional channel model [where there’s a value-added reseller], to now you are a services partner and you secure X amount data in the cloud. You’ve got all these services, platforms, you can now become an AWS-certified premier Partner or co-seller. You’ve also got GCP [Google Cloud Platform], which means you have to develop these skills that you may have not had two years ago,” Louise McEvoy, Trend Micro. “So, my strategy is no longer as much of a traditional reseller as it is: where are your new skills in [both] this traditional landscape and around these new types of services.”
Shifting towards long-term, services-led strategies
In another Rhone-referenced report, IT Partner Research: Security Services Trends at MSPs, Enterprise Strategy Group spoke with partners involved in managed security or managed services practices. When asked about their services today vs. planning for the future, responses illustrated a trend towards more complex and higher value services and an evolving focus on providing longer-term customer value.
“… Before COVID, security products were sufficient to cover all major categories. “What’s changed is that companies now realize that product is great, but that you need people who review these [security] alerts, looking at them, prioritizing, and that’s where the demand and drive for services come in,” Craig Halliwell from Red Canary. “So, organizations are saying, ‘Do we have the people on staff to do that?’ If not, that’s where the channel opportunity comes in, whether it’s channel partner, MSP, MVR provider or others.”
In line with vendors and partners shifting their strategies to a longer-term view, they are also moving to a more service-oriented stance to better serve customer needs. According to the same report, partners stated that security services allow them to have better first conversations with prospects and offer them more cross-sell or upsell opportunities.
“…for us culturally as a vendor we [sold] for many years on the strength of the product, throwing features at the problem. Jean-David Lehmann, Palo Alto Networks, says that there has been a shift in the way Palo Alto Networks markets and the success of service-led engagement. “… there’s a clear transition that we see – a clear dominance of service-led – and demand for the vendors to reinvent themselves in the relationship with their partners … to think not only product-first, but to think about how can I translate the features and capabilities of my product into services that will help my partner deliver better service to differentiate themselves.”
Taking on a new role in supporting partners
With these trends emerging, vendors have a clear need as well as an opportunity to improve their ability to offer better support, training, and enablement to their partners. This will help vendors succeed and improve their relationships with customers.
” I believe that helping them see the potential and getting them trained on it is key. Louise McEvoy says that because of the rapid changes in the world, it is important to help them see the opportunities and educate them on the customer’s challenges. “And now there’s an opportunity to get enabled, certified, trained on that particular part of the business.”
” I think the next step is to examine the security stack that we, as partners, sell and [consider] how are we providing services to tie it all together. Craig Halliwell says that there are only a few end-point and network [solutions] available. Add in identity – [and] to get a great mix of customizations. Specializations and certifications are what vendors like us can help with. I’ll give you a recent example: the recent XMBR specialization that Palo Alto has that Red Canary is going to be joining, is a great way to kind of formalize a specialization like this for a partner community.”
“… In the past, we were still in the classic mode. You had your products, certifications, enablement, and training. Jean-David Lehmann says that with all these changes, it is important to quickly adjust your programs to ensure that your partners have a framework that allows them to grow faster and be more independent in promoting their services. “It’s a different mindset – it’s a switch in terms of mentality for some classic channel managers who need to adjust the way they work to become more of a consultant.”
As the data and the discussion around it during this session made very apparent, the changing ways in which enterprise IT decision makers buy and consume technology and particularly companies’ evolving security concerns offer many opportunities for vendors and their partners to collaborate on delivering better to the market. These changes will be accelerated by partnerships and programs that can adapt quickly to these changes. To learn more about products and services to support your own partner-oriented efforts, our Jason James is here to help. And for more insights like these from practitioner partner marketing experts, stay tuned for the next episode of Winning Channel Strategies.
Channel and Alliance Partnerships, channel marketing strategies, technology spending trends