Sam Mayne, senior account manager at VIPRE, on the challenges - and opportunities - facing MSPs post-Covid
As part of CRN's MSP Transform event taking place on 23 June, we catch up with VIPRE about how MSPs can capture the UK's post-Covid recovery.
What is the biggest challenge that your partners (VARs, MSPs, etc) will face this year, and how have you helped them combat these?
Over the past 12 - 14 months our partners have worked hard to get themselves and their customers working securely and efficiently from home, and then back in the office - three times. A lot of our partners have furloughed staff over the past year, only to bring them back and furlough them again. It has been a year of frenzied cycles of extremes across the board.
Each lockdown brought with them/it the need to scale up customers' remote working capabilities and (hopefully) as we move out of our latest set of restrictions, partners will now have the time to review which vendors and solutions worked well for their customers, which ones need to be switched out and then move to making more long-term decisions and investments as many workplaces move towards a more permanent hybrid way of working. This is a big undertaking on top of their own business challenges where they are themselves bringing staff back from furlough and dealing with the same issues as their customers.
VIPRE, as a cloud security vendor has been working with our partners throughout the pandemic to ensure that our technical support team and partner team are available to offer advice on the right solutions for each challenge our partners faced. By the very nature of our business - cloud security, partners who already had most of their customer-base with us, had little to do in terms of setting themselves and their customers up to work securely from home. Some of our services have really come into their own during the pandemic such as Security Awareness Training and our ZTNA solutions. These solutions have helped to ensure that workforces are securely and easily connecting to the information that they need and have the training and skills necessary to make sensible security decisions in the moment wherever they are working. Our partners have really embraced these services as key to supporting remote working and we hope that our support to implement these best practices has helped them through this chaotic year.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for your partners over the next 12-18 months?
As we mentioned above, now is the time to start reviewing the services they have had to scale up during the pandemic - are those emergency measures sufficient for long term secure and agile working practices? If they are - fantastic! But if they are not, then partners need to really go out to the security market to see what is available, what tools do their customers need to remain secure in the new modern hybrid work environment? Many organisations simply plastered over the cracks to get their businesses up and running, now is the time to reassess and build a flexible, future-proof plan.
We call services like Security Awareness Training and VIPRE SafeSend "emerging security necessities", and partners will need to ensure their customers' staff are sufficiently trained in the threat landscape. Have they engaged in phishing penetration testing? Is sending an email to the wrong person an embarrassing mistake or a data breach? It is in this area where partners will see real growth. The importance of the IT department and the IT Service Provider was highlighted during this pandemic and partners can both capitalise and draw on that new importance to really show their customers the value they bring to them by continuing their role as a trusted advisor and resource. This will grow their revenue while maintaining that new relationship status. Partners will surely continue to benefit from delivering cloud services and apps to their customers, organically leading to further investments in solutions that ensure those services are secure.
Over the past year VIPRE have spoken a lot on the importance of a secure and agile workforce, one which is protected through layers of security and security best practice. It is by identifying weaknesses or gaps in infrastructure that channel partners will really excel.
What impact will customers returning to offices and adopting hybrid working models have on your business?
VIPRE is a cloud-security business, our solutions have, by design, been developed to move with a business's users, following them around, keeping them secure no matter where they are working. In this way, our business' strategy will not be hugely impacted because we already offer services which enable businesses to support a hybrid workforce. Where we are already starting to see an impact is in the area of user empowerment. We mentioned above that our Security Awareness Training and VIPRE SafeSend services have seen a lot of growth over the past 12-14 months. This is due to the fact that businesses have woken up to the idea that with the right solutions they can switch their employees from IT risks to IT assets.
However, what they have also noted, is that to make this switch they need to invest in ongoing training, phishing simulations and solutions that help employees make the right decisions. The once-a year cyber awareness training programme has been used for many years to tick a compliance box, but if businesses want to really keep on top of the threat landscape investing in ongoing programmes to keep their employees informed and alert to threats is key to their success in this area. It's also important to note that as people do move back to the office or towards a more hybrid approach to working, investment in education and training will play a role in ensuring that people do not let their guard no matter where they set up their workstations.
What one technology trend will shape the IT channel the most over the next 12-18 months?
Technology that allows businesses to work securely and efficiently from anywhere is going to continue to be essential. We have recently launched a trio of security suites which enable businesses to do just that, but key to each suite is Security Awareness Training, because without informed employees, businesses will continue to fall prey to the ransomware and phishing attacks that have plagued the world recently. Of course our cloud based email and endpoint security services form the backbone of each solution - let's not forget the security foundations! But training and tools that guide employees to the make the right decisions, along with true ZTNA solutions - the emerging necessities - will see real growth and investment over the next 12- 18 months.
What is your advice to partners to grow their business with you this year?
Firstly it's not about us - tell us what you need and how we can support you, and we will build that plan together! We believe that our partners stick with us for three key reasons - market-leading technology that is easy to use, our technical support team are the best in the business (…our partners tell us so regularly) and our Account Managers are available to support them with business growth.
What that translates to for this question is understand what we can offer you product wise: email security, endpoint security, security awareness training, protection from misaddressed emails, web security and true ZTNA services. But more crucially, understand what our people can offer you - do you need sales training for your team? Do you need technical support training for your helpdesk team? Have you got a customer consultation coming up? Get our people involved to support you with our technology USPs, our technical capabilities and our vast amount of experience and knowledge. We love our partners and the more we can do to support then, the more successful we will all be together!
Sam Mayne is senior account manager at VIPRE