Research findings reveal that information communications and technologies (ICT) services companies are overhauling their businesses like few times in their history. This provides cybersecurity vendors a unique moment to cement ties with new partners and redefine their go-to-market strategies.
But tech companies better hurry — and be prepared — otherwise they could miss out on a once-in-generation opportunity. Here’s why.
Today’s technology channel, which includes VARs, integrators, managed service providers (MSPs) and telecom agents, is experiencing unprecedented change. Take findings from CompTIA’s 2021 State of the Channel Study, which found that 44% of channel firms believe their world is “changing rapidly.” Channel companies are making changes, business owners say, to meet new demands from customers and to adjust to the new business realities of a post pandemic world.
To make their companies more competitive, for example, many channel companies are developing business practices around new technologies, embracing new business models that emphasize subscription sales, and implementing industry best practices that help their organizations run as efficiently and flexibly as possible. The same CompTIA study found, for example, that 27% of channel companies have accelerated and/or expanded their work with “emerging technologies” in the past two years.
Now consider cybersecurity. CompTIA found that better than eight in 10 channel companies are just beginning to develop a cybersecurity practice (36%) or selling very basic products and services (53%). Given that cybersecurity is expected to grow into $193 billion market opportunity by 2028, according to Grand View Research, and that cybersecurity is now an IT priority among SMBs (small-to-medium-sized businesses), according to Techaisle, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher as to why more channel companies haven’t developed more momentum in this field.
A lack of talent and complexity have hindered many channel companies from making the most of the opportunity, but things are changing rapidly. CompTIA and others expect more channel companies to double down on cybersecurity in 2022 and beyond to win deals and instill confidence among nervous customers, who report being targets of attack more than ever.
Good news for cybersecurity vendors, right? No question. Current market dynamics provide cybersecurity vendors a unique opportunity to establish ties to new partners. But there’s a caveat that innovators should be aware of. Today’s business partners want different things from vendors than in past years. If you’re optimized around the wrong priorities, you could miss a unique opportunity to cement ties to channel companies.
What Partners Want Now
As mentioned, partner business models are rapidly changing. As ICT services companies move from the sale of products sold as one-time transactions to the sale of services sold as recurring subscriptions, they require new skills and knowledge. Not surprisingly, these channel companies prioritize different things from vendor partner programs than in the past. Instead of product specs and sales incentives, they now prioritize more business support. Think professional sales training, financial acumen, business know-how, vertical market knowledge and more. “This is forcing vendors to re-evaluate traditional partner program resources and incentives to meet new expectations,” says CompTIA.
In addition to these specific demands, partners are also expressing dismay with overall vendor complexity. Put bluntly, channel companies have had it with program friction. In fact, studies show a full one-quarter of all partners will walk away from an otherwise profitable relationship if they deem a vendor too difficult to work with.
For cybersecurity vendors looking to make inroads in the channel now, this puts a premium on your business processes. World-class partner programs do not run on spreadsheets anymore, say channel experts including Forrester Research analyst Jay McBain. Instead, modern vendor programs rely on world-class software technology, the kind that automates partner onboarding and enablement, marketing, rewards, tiering and more.
If you’re looking to enlist channel partners to help you take your cybersecurity innovations to market, you must appreciate that your ideas are only part of what will make partners drawn to your business. The rest? It comes down to the quality of experiences you provide partners. Often, that quality is determined by the level of automation that you have.
Which brings us back to you. Are you using world-class technology to automate every facet of partner engagement — from partner journeys to marketing and beyond? Or are you hoping to get by with a home-grown tech stack or single point-solutions that do not integrate well or scale as needed?
Before you answer, consider another reason to invest in a world-class partner relationship management (PRM) platform: data, which McBain says is critical to “winning the channel.”
“Brands that provide an enhanced partner experience grow faster than their peers, are more profitable, and drive higher customer satisfaction and retention downstream,” McBain writes in a new blog from September 2021. “Smart channel professionals are looking at data across the partner journey as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and accelerate faster in the market.”
That’s you, right? You’re the smart channel leader with the right automation that can produce the proper level of data you need to differentiate your company and accelerate ahead of your competition?
If you’re unsure, then let Impartner show you the way. Request a demo for yourself and see why 78% of customers who invest with Impartner say it gives them a competitive edge in their market. You’ll be glad you did — and so will those new partners you recruit.