The IT channel is hopelessly unprepared to support and take advantage of the most cutting-edge security technologies. The majority of resellers retain a stubborn commitment to selling tin and tin only, seemingly unaware that there is much more to offer besides the latest upgrade at the cheapest price.
And if resellers are not in a position to educate their customers on what else is out there, we end up with a false sense of security all around, rather than an assurance of genuine data integrity.
The channel needs to start helping customers shift their security expenditure from a product to a service model and wake up to the fact that good security is achieved through better management, not adding more layers of tin.
A lot of businesses already have the technology they need, but they don't have a clue how to use it or understand what it's telling them.
This is where resellers can offer real value. If they help businesses to move security to the cloud and sell it as a service, they can spread and reduce cost for customers.
Providing the IT partner has the team and tools, it can offer more consistent and better-informed security analytics and device configurations than the majority of internal IT teams could hope to achieve themselves.
Each relevant technology can be implemented and managed, and security decisions based on information collated and analysed across multiple networks – rather than just one business.
This goes some way to levelling the playing field occupied by businesses, partners and hackers.
Unfortunately, for many resellers providing this level of service remains a pipe dream, or is not even on their radar. They lack the manpower, the expertise, the purchasing power or the established service models required.
Resellers looking to change this have to start by moving away from the never-ending price battle that consumes their world and doesn't help the customer, the vendor or themselves.
They have to focus on quality services by building a team of experts and proper security operations centres. Furthermore, they should not be afraid to offer informed opinions and educated advice.
What else is going to help customers in the complex and ever-diversifying threat environment? IT generalists will no longer do – the channel needs specialists.
Vendors are not without their responsibilities in helping IT partners shift to a service-based model; they can add value by creating more managed service plans and utility models for the channel to access.
Rather than being obsessed with hitting quarterly sales numbers and perennially putting off addressing the future, they could devote attention to working with the channel to introduce more flexible ways of purchasing technology, creating more predictable budget cycles, and insulating refresh cycles, enabling more money to be available for security intelligence services.
Distributors also have a role to play if the vendors won't offer this. As more cloud and SaaS models emerge, distributors must reinvent their value proposition anyway. If the market no longer requires a warehouse, distribution must become a bank.
If the ecosystem can offer these things, customers may be more inclined to sign up for 10-year cycles as opposed to 12 month subscriptions. It may breed a level of trust, confidence and IT security continuity that typically isn't fostered by the typical, impersonal customer-to-partner relationship today.
Educating customers about alternatives would not only give them the power to choose, it would also produce a greater long-term return for the channel.
Matt Tomlinson is sales director at SecureData
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