Malcolm Tuck

Doug Woodburn
clock • 7 min read
Malcolm Tuck

Name: Malcolm Tuck

Role: Managing director, ESET UK

Spirit animal: Lion

Walk-on song: Nimrod (Edward Elgar)

How would you summarise ESET's channel philosophy?

Channel first; channel only and channel forever

Tell us about ESET's partner programme in 100 words or fewer…

We like to think our channel programme is the most comprehensive; progressive and collaborative in the market. It encourages our partners to engage as fully as they can, and rewards those that do with a full portfolio of training, sales and marketing support functions, making ESET the easiest vendor to work with in the security market. It clearly sets out how to access all the services available and how to grow margins by close collaboration. Of course, there's always room for improvement. We listen carefully to our partners and always endeavour to improve to meet our channel's needs.

How many partners do you work with in the UK?

Directly around 3,000 and indirectly a further 4,000

Are you looking either to expand or reduce that? If so, what partner profile does this apply to?

We're always looking to increase the number of ‘active' partners and help them understand how they can help grow their business by improving the security profile of their clients. As to what ‘partner profile' this relates to, I would say that the more proactive and progressive partners that are willing to work in close partnership with us tend to be the most successful. They will always find an open door with ESET.

Have you made any major changes to your partner programme recently, or are you about to?

We launched our totally revamped new Partner Programme, officially, at the beginning of the year. It is a major improvement on the previous one having taken into account what our partners wanted and the feedback we've received is hugely positive. We had it ready to go a year before but to launch a new partner programme in the middle of the pandemic seemed to be unsympathetic with what our partners were already having to deal with.

We had [our new partner programme] ready to go a year before but to launch a new partner programme in the middle of the pandemic seemed to be unsympathetic with what our partners were already having to deal with

Describe your perfect partner?

I've already alluded to it earlier but a partner that is fully collaborative; progressive; proactive; communicative and engaged with ESET is a dream to work with. We want to work with partners that see ESET as part of their overall growth strategy and include us in those discussions. We always have time to speak and work closely with companies that have these attributes and understand what ESET brings to the table being the biggest European digital security company. Retaining the status of a privately held company means a total focus on delivering protection before profits.

In which areas would you most like to see your partners invest over the next 12 months?

The market is short of top-class security techies and the skills gap seems to be accelerating. Investing in training for this area will, I think, reap rewards in the medium to long term. The ‘trickle-down' of the need for more sophisticated security functions like XDR/MDR and EDR from large enterprise is creeping into the SMB market and there will be a huge requirement to provide these skills-heavy services to clients moving forward. So, to summarise, build up your managed security services offerings, in conjunction with ESET MDR services of course.

How do you see vendor channel programmes and channel engagement models evolving over the next few years?

For ESET we see our programme, at least, becoming more sophisticated and expanding to offer better services and support that encourage partners to be, more and more, extensions of ESET. We are looking as to how we can deliver a world-class programme backed up with the best margins and support packages, but also looking at how we can deliver a world-class communication platform that helps partners, of all sizes, engage with us how they want to and when they want to.

What are your priorities for the next 12 months?

We want to improve the way we work with partners - I see a world-class partner portal as a critical part of the two-way communication we all need to make sure the message doesn't get lost or diluted. We have a great story to tell here at ESET, such as the fact we protect over three billion Google Chrome users and being the largest European vendor it's important that we communicate these to our loyal partners as it builds a lot of trust with them and our joint clients.

Do you feel ESET is doing enough to cater for non-resale partners, including those that sell technology as a managed service, ISVs or agents?

Absolutely, but we are always looking to improve and never rest on our laurels. Our MSP programme is second to none, providing a wide range of easy-to-manage services and solutions, as well as daily billing for example. Our affiliate programme is fully-fledged; basically however a partner wants to work with us, we can accommodate. This even includes working in a hybrid fashion for those partners that have a mix of monthly managed clients and those that want to buy licences and manage them themselves.

Is direct-channel conflict ever an issue in your partner ecosystem, and if so how do you mitigate that?

To answer that, I'll repeat that we are channel first, channel only! Any direct enquiries we do receive are managed - running demos; issuing trials; generating quotes, all the way to the point of purchase. We may then hand on to our channel partners, based on how close the relationship is and the synergy between the new client and the partner. In fact, we offer our business development team as an additional resource to selected partners to help them generate new business. This is totally free of charge and another demonstration of the lengths to which we will go to support our partner ecosystem.

Name one trait you prize highly in partners, and one you deplore?

Loyalty and duplicity

How do you feel ESET's margin proposition stacks up against your peers?

Of course, we feel it is best-in-class but I like to refer to the CRN Vendor Report 2019 that recognised us as one of the best of 42 vendors (from all disciplines - not just security). If I recall correctly we topped margins, leads and incentives and came in the top six in the other two categories placing third overall (virtually all of our competitors placed in the bottom half of the report) which made me very proud and satisfied that we are on the right track. Things have improved even further since then and although I don't have the report to hand I believe we came in the top six overall in last year's Vendor Report.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one aspect of your channel performance or strategy overnight, what would it be?

Nothing really - I think our ‘channel-first' strategy is spot on. The more that our partners understand that we are totally committed to this, the more trust it will engender and our channel performance will continue to accelerate.

What's the most challenging aspect of being a channel leader?

Ensuring that we continue to innovate and deliver information to our channel in easy-to-digest formats against the backdrop of intense competition. Vendors are very good at overcomplicating things and we try really hard to deliver concise and powerful business propositions for our resellers to represent to the market in an easy-to-understand, easy-to-consume way.

I spent most of my working life in New Zealand having moved there from the Royal Air Force to the Royal New Zealand Airforce

Tell us something about yourself most people won't know

I spent most of my working life in New Zealand having moved there from the Royal Air Force to the Royal New Zealand Airforce. Moving to a country you have never visited before with a young family is not for the faint-hearted but can be life-changing. It was for me.

What is your spirit animal?

Lion - a Leo by birth and according to Google, "lively, fun, loyal, and honest, Vivacious, theatrical, and passionate, Leos love to bask in the spotlight and celebrate themselves". Sounds about right to me!

What would be your walk-on song, and why?

You know what, this may not be walk-on music, but I just visited the Pegasus Bridge Memorial Museum yesterday and being ex-Military it is deeply moving for me. Together with the music that was playing Elgar's "Nimrod" it was a very emotional experience. As a patriot, I would say that "Jerusalem" is another favourite. There are many contemporaries that I will not bore you with.

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