Tuesday, 17th September 2019

Channel strategies must evolve over time

There is no denying the vital role that IT distribution plays alongside channel partners in helping their end customers achieve their digital transformation goals. In many ways, distribution provides the value-added services needed to compete in today’s complex IT marketplace – something that’s reflected in the sector’s continued growth. By Jo-anne Holliday, Channel Specialist, Becrypt.

However, there is no denying several huge shifts within the IT channel over the last couple of years as companies have had to adapt their go-to-market models to meet customer demands. An influx of new partners, a shift in B2B buying habits and the ongoing disruption imposed by the cloud on traditional sales models mean that many IT providers are currently revaluating their go-to-market strategy in order to remain relevant to their customers.

There is no better example of this than within distribution, where across the entire landscape, distributors are shifting their focus from warehousing, logistics and credit support to offering specialist services, cloud aggregation, online marketplaces and finding other ways to create value in this new channel ecosystem.

Earlier this year, analyst Forrester noted, “The financial health of the long tail and the shift in buyer preferences to marketplaces are creating headwinds for companies that are no longer the centre of gravity for tech buying.”

At Becrypt, we have always recognised the value of distribution; our partners have been invaluable in helping to establish our successful cyber security business with long-term customer relationships within the UK government and public sector. At the same time, we feel it is important to continually assess the best route-to-market and evaluate whether that approach is best aligned to the latest technologies and customers.

In other words, no strategy should stand still but be continually evaluated and evolved in order to best enable the channel – which means understanding where you are as a business as well as what the distribution partner can provide.

Closer customer relationships

Becrypt is known for our established endpoint encryption and data leakage prevention portfolio. In addition, in 2017 we launched Paradox, a lightweight operating system, which can be deployed on a variety of end user devices. It enables organisations to securely access online applications or their Office 365, Salesforce, or other cloud-based application.

To date we have taken Paradox to market via a single-tier approach, which has enabled us to develop closer relationships with our specialist channel partners, working hand-in-glove to help identify potential customers, as well as better understand our partners’ requirements and listen to their feedback.

We have found this strategy to be so successful that we have decided to mirror it for our established full-disk encryption software products, the Disk Protect Product Suite.

Put simply, we have two product portfolios at different stages of their lifecycles, and we don’t believe that having a mixed go-to-market model, and mixed messaging, is beneficial to our channel. We also believe that getting closer to the end user in the delivery of services is vital.

Not only will this deliver consistency across the two product sets, but it will deliver a more streamlined service that makes it easier for resellers and partners to sell both product families.

At the same time, we are looking to solidify our relationship with existing partners and identify new partners that are keen to sell both product sets. We want to build and invest in a small group of partners who have the capability to adapt to market changes and distribute all our products, not just one. Also, as we change and move more towards a SaaS model, we need partners who can support this.

Maintaining strong links with distribution

To fully embrace this new route-to-market, we are increasing our internal resources in order to build strong ties with our partner community, including new partner relationship management (PRM) technology, which includes a new online portal. It’s a fantastic mechanism for partners to engage with us, and we want to ensure we maintain the same level of services provided by our distribution partners.

However, our relationship with our distribution partners remains strong, and in the long-term we will work together again as we look to scale our portfolios. In fact, when we talked to our distributors about this, they realised it made perfect sense. To this point, Jane Silk, managing director at Sigma Software Distribution said: “We are keen to support Becrypt in this next stage in the organisation’s journey, which is beyond the mature, traditional encryption products, to an even more exciting level.”

She added: “We look for long term strategic relationships with vendors, and we will see those relationships morph over time. We are and have been, part of this conversation. We see this as a natural progression.”

For Becrypt it makes sense to take a step back, regroup, and make sure that we’ve got the right capabilities to focus on a small group of specialist partners that reflect where we feel the market is heading. But we also see huge value in maintaining relationships with our long-term distribution partners like Sigma, as we see the value not just in their people, but in their processes and in the support that they can provide us.

This is by no means a parting of the ways, just a short interlude as we work towards building out our portfolio of partners and determine the best strategy for the business, both in the short and long term. It is important that any channel strategy is continually assessed and realigned as the fast pace of business and technology evolves.

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