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Selling cyber defence

Intrigued to understand the local cyber security market, The Margin conducted a mini-survey among the people who know it best.

America’s NSA, Britain’s tabloid journalists, teams of Chinese ‘researchers’ and thousands of teenagers holed away in their bedrooms all have one thing in common: they’re after your valuable information.

Protecting an organisation’s data from hackers, malware and viruses is becoming ever more specialised and challenging as the variety and quantity of threats increases. Megatrends like big data, cloud computing and bring your own device (BYOD) also add extra dimensions and challenges to securing access to burgeoning amounts of data.

And herein lies the opportunity. Where there’s fear of uncertainty and risk that an organisation’s most valuable assets can be corrupted, destroyed or stolen, there’s a need for solutions and services offering reassurance and protection.

Conducting a mini survey among vendors, distributors, systems integrators (SIs), value-added resellers (VARs), security solutions providers and consultants, questionnaires were sent to experts and companies operating in the local field of security.

Is cyber security taken seriously?

To gauge attitudes around the level of opportunity, respondents were asked if cyber security was taken seriously among both private sector and government.

Responses received totalled 23, and vendors accounted for the biggest percentage of respondents (44 percent).

Where’s the opportunity?

To understand where the opportunities are, respondents were asked to identify the top three vertical industry sectors that are showing most interest in security.

What are the biggest challenges faced in selling security?

• Lack of user education, leading to increased attacks or breaches.
• Lack of executive awareness around the need for security; true awareness often only comes after experiencing a breach or attack.
• Not being able to demonstrate the value of security, or as one respondent terms it, ‘providing a tangible ROI’, especially in a time of cost reduction.
• Ensuring solutions and offerings stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals.
• Keeping up with the ever-changing IT landscapes and trends, such as cloud and BYOD, and being able to offer customers a holistic solution.
• The local skills shortage.

Adding security to the portfolio

With much growth potential, adding security products and services to the portfolio could be a key new revenue stream for systems integrators and value-added resellers that don’t already play in this area. The Margin asked respondents what advice they would give to companies looking to add a security focus.

The general feeling is that market entry is a strategic business decision that resellers must undertake seriously. Gregory Anderson, country manager of Trend Micro, says: “I would highly recommend that they [SIs/VARs] research their options before making any decisions, and to ensure they provide adequate resources to the new offering from technical aspects, to sales and marketing.”

Resourcing qualified skills and keeping on top of the latest developments is key, and that requires ongoing investment and dedication. “Make sure you’re capable of supporting your products technically – international support is often lacking,” says Claire Milroy, director, SecureLab.

Of course, selecting the right products will be a key determinant of success. “Pick the technologies that close the gaps in the client’s software and network in order to prevent the adversary’s attack at the point of infiltration. Typically, technologies backed up by strong research capabilities will give organisations a fi ghting chance to stay ahead of the evolving threats,” says Stefan Schmid, director of Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa, HP Enterprise Security.

Tied in to the choice of product is the vendor or distributor that provides said solution. “Make sure you partner with a vendor who is as committed to the channel as you are – you’re more likely to receive quality support, both technically and from sales,” says SecureLab’s Milroy.

Be strategic

“Don’t try to build Rome in a day,” advises Wayne Olsen, CTO, SecureData. “Security is a layered approach. Add additional security services as time progresses.”

Samresh Ramjith, chief solution and marketing officer, Dimension Data, expands the point: “Start with products and services adjacent to existing solutions.” He cautions, however: “Security is a specialisation – don’t dabble. Don’t add to the noise. Sell something that works.”

Indeed, a number of respondents agree it’s important for resellers to complement existing offerings and create a niche. “Security is more of a specialised and focused sell,” says Andrew Potgieter, business practice director at Westcon Security Solutions. “Attach security to the areas you currently specialise in, for example, if you focus on desktop and mobile sales, then add end-point security. Alternatively, if you’re network-focussed, then look at the edge of the network security area,” he concludes.

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