Cybersecurity is a primary consideration for the channel, and needs to look beyond basic security protection tools such as antivirus (opens in new tab), malware protection (opens in new tab), and anti-ransomware software (opens in new tab). Despite this, there are still those that harbour distorted views on cybersecurity. Frequently, simply starting the conversation about providing cybersecurity can make channel organisations unfamiliar with it, feel very uneasy.
Accumulated misconceptions have led to beliefs that providing cyber security is a job which requires reading high-level code, vigilante heroism and the task of taking on the world’s hackers and shut down ‘The Matrix.’ In reality, the only similarity to any sci-fi film is that reality is fairly dull in comparison.
In fact, this type of thinking is quite damaging to the growth of innovation in the technology landscape. For too long the channel has been providing specialised solutions without a belief that they have the ability to cross over into the cybersecurity market.
Where there are challenges, there are opportunities for success. Providing cybersecurity to your customers doesn’t involve choosing either the red or the blue pill.
David Ellis is the Vice President of Security and Mobility, EMEA, for Tech Data.
Why would you want to start offering cybersecurity in the first place?
A common mistake made by businesses when starting out is to dive right into the technology. This approach overlooks some vital context; and the point of cybersecurity.
Data flows through just about every aspect of our lives. Used in the right way it can become incredibly valuable. Before tackling the problem of cybersecurity, the data has to be considered first. The data is the why.
Smaller organisations are now embracing digital transformation (opens in new tab). This means smaller businesses can now leverage data in the same way that only very large businesses could as recently as ten years ago. However, this exposes them to the same risks, but without the relevant infrastructure in place.
This is why governments and regulatory bodies around the world have recognised a need to invest in cybersecurity.
Data protection laws
As of September 2019, over 80 countries and independent territories have now adopted comprehensive data protection laws to prohibit disclosure or misuse of information. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (opens in new tab) and rules from industry specific regulatory bodies layered onto this provide the regulatory framework. Organisations who fail to look after their data correctly, face huge fines and an erosion of customer confidence in their brand, losing them customers.
Unlike regulatory bodies, cyber attackers do not discriminate based on size. Smaller organisations now have to be as wary of protecting company data as those in the enterprise. In fact, lacking years of engagement with cybersecurity provisions, SOC (security operation centre) analytics (opens in new tab) teams and protection, smaller organisations could be seen as an easier target to some cyber threats.
No longer just the domain of large enterprises and big channel providers, there is now a gap in the cybersecurity market for comprehensive cybersecurity solutions to cater for smaller players in every industry. Rather than seeing it as a challenge, businesses should be open to taking control of their cybersecurity and view it as an opportunity for growth, greater customer entanglement and a potential point of differentiation.
For many C-level executives concerned with IT, cybersecurity is the topic at the top of their minds. Getting it right can even open up other areas of IT spend. Once decision makers feel confident in their security, your customers are more likely to start conversations about implementing IoT, cloud services (opens in new tab), and other innovations.
Why is now the time to act?
A fragmented and vendor-saturated market
Cyber criminals can be highly innovative. It often feels like new cybersecurity vendors pop up daily to address the next new threat. This makes it difficult to determine what solutions are the best fit for your organisation, which technologies to choose, and which vendors to get skilled up on.
With so many different point products on the market, often with different degrees of overlap, the amount of choice can be bewildering. Effective cybersecurity relies on having the right knowledge and monitoring tools (opens in new tab). This is where good distributors play an important role in the cybersecurity market. They will be researching the market all the time. As such, they can identify the most effective solutions and decipher how to consolidate them into an efficient and effective cybersecurity portfolio.
This is all work you don’t have to do. Channel partners should be able to deliver tailored cybersecurity solutions and services. For those who are building up cybersecurity expertise, fully formed cybersecurity solutions which have already been developed can be leveraged straight from the distributor.
Besides removing the initial costs of developing services, the service collateral and legal contracts curated by the distributor removes a large part of the risk involved. Not to mention, throwing in marketing support and enablement around the hardened solutions they’ve developed.
Complexity around compliance and control policies
We should not forget that for many organisations their focus is on running and improving their core business, rather than becoming experts on cybersecurity. As you build up expertise around cybersecurity, choosing to focus on the regulatory and compliance requirements around a vertical market could become a key area of differentiation from anyone else offering cybersecurity services.
The shift in IT consumption models
Channel partners have been learning in recent years that the growing technology market has changed the way businesses buy, and therefore the way technology vendors sell technology. The opportunity here is for the channel to be able to offer security as a service, either around the endpoint software (opens in new tab) and its users or the system and its applications.
The service could be a dedicated service or likewise it could be embedded into an existing offering. What’s important here is looking at how you create a fully formed, productised service that allows you to continue to add new recurring value. For instance, when customers subscribe to your service, there needs to be a way you can continue to add new value to the service and thus justify the on-going subscription. That way you can move away from a cost-plus pricing model, to one that is based on the value you deliver to the customer. The distributor should be able to help with this process.
Now that cloud marketplaces automate the selling and management of cybersecurity technology and solutions choosing the right platform can also make it much easier and less costly to offer cybersecurity solutions at scale to your customers.
How to overcome the main challenges of offering cybersecurity?
It’s no secret that entering any new market can be costly, and with Industry-wide cybersecurity training (opens in new tab) shortage the cybersecurity market comes at a high cost of entry.
Specialists need to stay current on new cyber threats as they emerge, and talent is in short supply across the industry. If you are starting out in cybersecurity, investing in technical skills is a big commitment and may seem like an irreversible change to your business model.
The greatest costs associated with entering the cybersecurity market come into play with sourcing expertise with demonstrable experience, training and essential development of solutions, including production of brochures and product marketing (opens in new tab).
The easiest way to get started is to look for cybersecurity services offered by distributors and consider the services you can resell. Fully developed and trusted solutions are available, training can be supplied and technical delivery of these services will be actioned by the distributor on your behalf.
Once you have established a revenue stream, the distributor should be able to offer you certified technical training for your engineers to action the services, along with sales and marketing training for your commercially focused teams.
Structured enablement programmes
Leading distributors tend to offer structured enablement programmes to help channel organisations transform existing operating models around the latest new technologies and high growth markets, enabling shifts from traditional reseller to services-led, or managed services to managed security services.
Programmes can include developing go-to-market strategies, providing access to key materials and resources, identifying and planning changes needed around systems and operations, which leverage technical expertise from distributors in terms of support services, demo labs, simulated cyber-attack environments, pre-sales and technical consultancy. This method forms the best environment for businesses to expand their capabilities and for the channel to grow.
Although challenges to introducing cybersecurity do exist, they are not insurmountable with the support of the right distribution partner. Not only can distributors take the heavy investments in labour, capital and time, they can provide dedicated skills for the specific products you want to adopt.
So, cybersecurity doesn’t have to be sci-fi. There are easy ways to get started with the support of the right distribution partner. From there it is about leveraging the full breadth of the distributor’s portfolio, programmes, tools and resources to help you better serve the needs of your customers. This way, you can truly connect with the power of technology.
David Ellis is the Vice President of Security and Mobility, EMEA, for Tech Data (opens in new tab).
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