In another 'Meet the Shortlisters of 2021' feature, CRN catches up wiht the security vendor's EMEA channels director Scott Walker (pictured) to chat about the challenges of 2021, how Illumio has stayed close to its partners during the pandemic and the significant opportunity for resellers around its Zero Trust technology
What would you say is your company's proudest achievement over the past year?
Despite an unprecedented year full of challenges and changes, I'm so proud to say that at Illumio, we've built an incredible team of people across Europe who have supported and grown our channel significantly. By putting together such a strong team, we've had great success in recruiting, developing, and onboarding partners in every major market across Europe, Middle East and Africa. What's more, following our successful funding round earlier this year, we've enhanced our investment in the channel, our programs, and offering, while continuing to be recognised as the leader in Zero Trust segmentation.
What have been some of the main challenges of 2021 and how have you overcome them? How have your own people/teams helped with that?
Over the past year, our main challenge has been ensuring our partners continue to have all of the information, enablement and content they need to be successful in a remote environment. Working remotely has introduced a wide array of challenges for partners, customers, and vendors. Nevertheless, as a team we've taken it in stride and adapted to the new way of working, which has helped us to find new ways to develop joint business opportunities and continue to increase pipeline.
How have you managed to stay close to your partners during the pandemic?
I don't think anything can replace face-to-face meetings when it comes to relationship building. However, our alternative, which has proven to be very successful, has been to increase one-to-one virtual meetings to ensure we're dedicating ample time to each of our partners and ultimately to our customers. Frequent communication has been a key part of our success. It's been so important for partners to know that they have a single point of contact who is on hand to support them whenever they need it.
We've also continued with regular enablement programs as well as investing in headcount in each of our territories across EMEA, equipping us with the tools and strategy to ensure we stay closer to our partners than ever before. Being present and available for our partners has never been as critical as it has been throughout the pandemic.
How has your channel strategy evolved during the past 12 months? Have you launched any new initiatives?
Our channel strategy has always been to develop a lean and focused route to market, and this year was no exception. Our goal was not only to have a successful year, but to also build the foundations for our growth plans for 2022 and beyond.
As part of this, over the past year our focus has been to deepen investment into our channel. Through our program we've provided partners with a range of initiatives from professional services certifications and mentoring to marketing programs and improved enablement and communication channels. We've also supported partners by developing business plans to ensure their success and by growing our internal Illumio channel team
What does it mean to be recognised for the shortlist/an award?
To be shortlisted for an award amongst a group of other fantastic software vendors is a huge privilege and honour. June 2022 will mark our channel business' third birthday, so to have previously been recognised as Emerging Vendor of the Year is amazing, but to now have been nominated in the Security Vendor of the Year is the icing on the cake! What makes it even more exciting is we are only just getting started and have so much opportunity ahead of us.
How do you think the industry has changed since last year and what lessons do you think it has learned?
This year has seen an unprecedented number of ransomware attacks targeting every organisation around the globe. The need to bolster and prioritise a resilient security strategy as a result of these attacks and the other evolving threats out there is growing day after day. Channel partners play a vital role in helping customers identify gaps in their strategy as well as the appropriate solutions they can lean on to close them. As such, our role as a vendor is to provide ample enablement to ensure the right information is available and more importantly, well understood.
Over the past 12 months, cybersecurity has become a real priority for every organisation and thus the market is becoming saturated. Now more than ever, the industry, especially within the channel, is learning the importance of having a clear, simple message around a critical problem. This ultimately helps customers enhance their security posture more quickly.
What has been your firm's biggest takeaway from the past two years?
With the rise in devastating ransomware attacks over the past two years, one thing has become crystal clear - we need to take a resilient approach to security, so that when an attack breaches the perimeter, our high value assets remain safe. At Illumio we are focused on helping customers become more resilient to attack, so that a minor security incident doesn't become detrimental to the organization. As there's been a growing focus on implementing Zero Trust philosophies, channel partners have been crucial in helping customers develop and activate on their strategies. One of the best ways we can support our customers is by enabling our channel partners and working closely together to accomplish our shared goals.
What do you see as the main opportunities for your firm in the coming year?
Following the foundations we've set this year with our focused investment and enhanced initiatives, we're excited for the opportunity for continued and expanded growth in the channel as we head into 2022.
The biggest opportunity for Illumio and our partners is the market adoption of Zero Trust strategies and micro-segmentation. Historically, Zero Trust has been viewed as a cumbersome, time-consuming investment. That's not the case today, though. With our partners, we can help customers make progress on their Zero Trust journeys by starting with simple, small, intentional steps. With today's threat landscape there's no time to waste trying to draft the perfect plan on paper - customers need incremental improvements to their security posture now. Alongside our partners, we have a huge opportunity to help customers prevent minor security incidents from becoming real-world disasters.