Touching on Ridgway’s comments, Jaynean Leaupepe, Business Development Manager, Arrow ECS Australia and New Zealand - a IT security distributor - believes partners should work closer with risk management teams in a bid to help further the security conversation across an organisation, thus making it a greater business priority.
“Partners should examine the risks of an organisation and ask the key question, “what is the business trying to achieve?” she adds. “Until partners fully understand the requirements of a business, they can’t begin to help solve the problem.”
Onus on Partners?
Looking across from the vendor fence, Sikking accepts that it is “extremely difficult” for a distributor to turn the conversation around when a customer rings up with a ready made wish-list.
Alluding to the common sales theory that over half of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier, Sikking believes that consequently, “the onus lies with the partners.”
“The decision is already made by this point so it’s down to the partner to drive those questions with the customer and impact decisions earlier,” he says. “The partners must sit down with customers and have a much wider security discussion because at the end of the day, vendors are a bunch of technology companies trying to sell their own individual solutions.
“Of course, for partners the real struggle lies and trying to provide that additional value layer but it’s about driving this through your long-standing relationships with customers and utilising the enablement programs of vendors to get your message across.”
In an ideal world, Sikking says that Cisco, or FireEye, or Webroot, uncovering business problems would help move the discussion along, but in circling back to the first topic, “there’s a lot of people in the industry who don’t want you to lift that rock.”
Onus on Vendors?
Green, in representing Datacom, counters with the view that “security is a not a product sell.”
“We see behaviour from some vendors in the market, and maybe we are all accountable in this respect, that is detrimental to the work of partners,” he adds. “What vendors must recognise is that partners are in contact with vendors providing different technologies, who are constantly claiming that ‘ours is faster, better and cheaper’ and wondering why we don’t implement their solutions.
“There might be a case on the better speeds and feeds but there’s a much bigger picture to consider. What about training, servicing and processes needed to implement those skills? It’s never a simple rip out the product and replace.”
As a result, Green believes there must be a “degree of pragmatism” in the process around how vendors represent a particular product.
“I believe it’s crucial to architect new ways to approach business,” he explains. “Vendors must recognise that it isn’t always about meeting this month’s quota, it’s actually about saying we have to construct a longstanding service together. It might be a 2-3 year relationship that needs to take place but there is room to work out how we can share the risk and turn a dollar.”
Delving deeper into Green’s comments, Sikking adds that the industry has witnessed a “massive shift” from vendors moving to consumption based models.
With customers now paying according to the resources used, Sikking says security is now being delivered as-a-service, in line with industry predications.
Two years ago, research analyst firm Gartner predicted that cloud-based security services market, which includes secure email or web gateways, identity and access management (IAM), remote vulnerability assessment, security information and event management would hit US$4.13 billion by 2017.
The growth, as forecast by Gartner, is likely to come because of the adoption of these cloud-based security services by small- to-mid-sized business (SMB) in particular.
“Rather than sell a product or vendor name to a customer, it’s important to look at selling a service instead,” adds de Wet.
This, according to Sikking, signals a move to a more outcomes based approach, which subsequently “shifts the risk from the customer to the provider.”
“If the outcome is what customer is looking for, the difficult arises from all of the risk pushing back onto the provider,” Sikking adds.
Irrespective of whether the solution is “red, green or blue”, if vendors help partners examine the solution and ensure it delivers the best outcome for the customer, then in the eyes of Debbie Proffit, National Vendor Manager, Westcon New Zealand, that will be the key market differentiator.
“Challenges for resellers in the security market are to a degree no different to that of the data centre or unified communications markets,” Proffit observes. “But at Westcon we find our most successful vendors are the ones who spend time relaying information and education through the channel to the customer, rather than simply trying to sell a product.”
In having the final world, Barton believes that the partner role in New Zealand has never been more crucial, and as changing face of the security landscape continues to shift the goal posts and impact the market, partners that can help deliver technology as-a-service can excel.
“These sorts of partnerships are becoming even more important today,” he concludes.
For an overview of the New Zealand security market, and the threats and challenges within it, check back to the first story by clicking here