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Why partners must stop educating and start strategising in security

James Henderson | Aug. 17, 2017
Onus on the channel to evolve and extend security capabilities as customers become more aware of emerging threats.

“But we sell to much larger organisations also because we have a commitment to delivering enterprise-grade industrial strength protection, which happens to be delivered in a way that is easy to use.”

As a result, Sophos is essentially going against the grain, targeting businesses outside of the Global 2000 to take advantage of untapped potential across the mid-market.

“We explicitly and unapologetically focus on the other 60 million businesses across the world,” Hagerman said. “That’s a perfect marriage for the channel and it’s the only way we go to market.”

Alongside a channel-only strategy, the network and endpoint specialist provider is also adding new levels of market value through Sophos Central, a cloud-based management platform built with the partner in mind.

Designed to simplify the administration of multiple Sophos products, the platform was created to enable more efficient business management for partners, built on the foundations of three core components - Admin, Partner and Self-Service.

“When we develop new technologies, we do it from the ground up with the channel in mind,” Hagerman explained. “Sophos Central has been a rocket ship for us in terms of adoption, with over 45,000 customers now using the platform.”

On the outside looking in, Sophos Central is cloud platform which allows easy access to the vendor’s entire portfolio, providing value for both customers and partners.

Yet for Hagerman, many don’t grasp the fundamental differentiator.

“We built this for the channel,” he said. “Almost every other cloud platform to the extent that a security vendor has one, has been built for end-users.

“In most cases those vendors view it as a way to bypass the channel and get direct to the end-user. We built it to empower the channel to make it easier for partners to sell to new customers, enhancing both top line and bottom line growth.”

Such a channel-centric approach, according to Hagerman, is the difference between success and failure in the increasingly crowded security market.

Following a period of sizeable industry change - triggered by increased mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity - Sophos sits in a market that looks and acts differently to a market of 12-24 months ago, such is the evolutionary nature of security.

“We’ve been consistent throughout,” Hagerman said. “Other vendors have been buying and selling companies, changing CEOs and going through a number of strategic changes.

“Symantec has had a lot of CEOs during the past few years and McAfee has been going through changes also, the latest being ground private so you don’t quite know what they will want to be when they grow up. We know what we want to be and we’ve been consistently doing that for five years.

“Our partners appreciate the consistency and our commitment to the channel. It’s not one of our routes to market, it’s our only route to market and that clarifies the mind.”


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