Can one sector of a business drive change in an entire channel?
Though the IT channel is has been around for many years, it is changing rapidly to a integrated solution based model. One of the most significant change agents is the urgent need to integrate information security and cybersecurity into all IT products and services.
Bruce Johnson heads up Global Channels at BlueVoyant, a next generation cybersecurity provider built on a threat intelligence platform. BlueVoyant has leaders from diverse backgrounds, from executives at Morgan Stanley to members of the NSA and FBI.
Bruce and his team at BlueVoyant have seen first hand the widespread impact that information security and cybersecurity concerns have had on sales channels. If a company is in the technology space, they need to have measures in place to protect their own information as well as the information of their clients. BlueVoyant helps neutralize those threats.
Bruce has experience working all over the globe, so we sat down with him to learn more about the state of the sales channel in North America, the differences between the North American Market and the European Market, and where he sees room for improvement in these channels.
State of the Channel in North America
Bruce has been on all sides of his industry: the vendor, distributor and reseller spaces. Part of Bruce’s job now is to build partnerships and find new routes to clients.
Most recently, he’s seen the information and cybersecurity sectors of the North American sales channel make a difference in how companies are doing business. Since we live in an increasingly digital world, information security and cybersecurity threats are ever present for any large business.
It’s hard to be in the technology space anymore without offering some level of information security or cybersecurity practice.
Cybersecurity is driving companies to look at their business differently. They are moving away from the resale of products to a more recurring revenue model. Organizations are more focused in North America on tighter relationships; they want to look deeper into opportunities for partnerships and alliances.
More and more businesses are vetting each other’s technologies, combining resources, and going to market together. This allows companies like BlueVoyant to wrap their security solution into all aspects of a partner’s platform pursue a recurring revenue model.
The North American Sales Channel is driving toward more specialization. There is a lack of resources and talent in the general population to cover cybersecurity needs and Bruce believes there are up to a million unfilled jobs. There is a need for deeper and better solutions and expertise.
Differences Between North America and Other Markets
Bruce comes from the perspective of a US based business expanding into different markets. In Europe, Bruce sees the role of distributors as different; they are becoming more of a value added position, a trusted advisor that dives deeper into product specifics and adds more resources around solution selling.
He is seeing the same thing evolve in the US, but at a slower rate. Distributors are taking on more of a added value position in the past five years, but there is a ways to go.
In terms of cultural differences companies need to do their homework to understand how to do business in different regions. North America is vast, but there are so many differences in doing business even between the regions of the UK and France, for example.
Bruce knows that companies have to spend a lot of time building a complex strategy on how to leverage sales channels within those different regions before becoming successful.
Room For Improvement
Customers are leaning on distributors as trusted advisors. Rather than just displaying options, distributors assist in the form of decision support. They help put offerings together and assist customers in deciding which route to take. This is a large responsibility and something that can always be improved upon.
Bruce also thinks that vendors and partners need to build tighter processes between each other. This requires an investment of time, money, and personnel, and often means fewer partners with deeper relationships.
We need to see a willingness to build a tighter process and tighter engagement between vendor and partner.
Partners and vendors can’t be all things to all people. Distributors need to pick fewer vendors and go deeper with each relationship. This will lead to providing more value together and a deeper understanding of each other’s business.
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