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Kaspersky: 'It's about services, not just selling'

Riaan Badenhorst, MD of Kaspersky Lab Africa, tells the Margin about his constantly evolving job.

Riaan Badenhorst, Kaspersky Lab Africa

Riaan Badenhorst, managing director of Kaspersky Lab Africa, sums up his career as one that is ‘constantly evolving, with many challenges and opportunities to face’.


“I absolutely love the fact that no two days are the same in my job role, or within the industry in which I have built my career, the IT security space. It's an exciting sector that requires one to always be alert and on your toes, and I love this energy and enthusiasm.”
 
It’s a 24/7 job however, which can be a challenge for a self-described family man. “Things don’t always happen within office hours. This is a nonstop job. However, I work around this as best as possible.”

Badenhorst says a defining point in his career came about when he finally understood what his niche focus needed to be. “Having been exposed to the IT security side of things – which included risk management and compliance – I found my place in the ‘big IT sector’.”
 
Would he have done anything differently? “My career has seen many challenges and opportunities, but I would have not done anything differently as it placed me on the path I am today. Every challenge has presented me with lessons which have assisted in building my career and my expertise. I look forward to a continued career in this ever changing field; there is still much to be done in the IT security space, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Digital evolution

Looking at the country’s technology landscape, he says ‘we’re actually not far behind our global counterparts, despite what many may think’.

He says South African businesses are embracing the digital evolution and were thus becoming digital businesses.

In terms of the trends he expects to see dying out over the next 18 months to two years, he says that given the rate at which technology continues to develop - such as cloud computing - the need for physical environments to host infrastructure will likely die out, as everything can be hosted in the cloud.

The channel
Badenhorst believes the channel would describe Kaspersky Lab as the best vendor to deal with.

“At Kaspersky Lab, we have a very mature partner channel programme that caters for different levels of partners, including the likes of broad line distributors, value added distributors and resellers, as well as small retailers and resellers.”

He says the security giant’s partner programme includes several levels of cooperation that reflect a partner's level of expertise and the extent of their collaboration with Kaspersky Lab.

“The higher the level and the better the performance, the more support and benefits Kaspersky Lab provides. Partners receive a variety of benefits, depending on their partner level.”
 
“Our partner programme is very flexible and our key focus is partner enablement, as well as training – both on the sales or technical side – and includes certifications and partner specialisations such as virtualisation.”

Channel challenges
Apart from the obvious economic challenges that Africa faces, Badenhorst believes that it’s a struggle to retain skilled staff.

“Many businesses spend a lot of time and effort training resources up, however they tend to struggle to keep these resources.”

If he had to give his channel partners one piece of advice, it would be centred on encouraging them to start focusing on services, or to at least offering managed services and some professional services to customers.

“This is where I believe they will be able to develop their key differentiator(s) – as opposed to just selling a product – and retain customers.”
 
The three most important things partners need from vendors to be successful are world leading products and services, as well as flexibility within a certain set of parameters, such as a partner programme to ensure that the playing field is fair and level. What about the third?

“Trust.”

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