Kaspersky is counselling its channel to take advantage of the increased market opportunities in the enterprise, both to build new business and expand the company’s brand awareness with major new logos. They are also emphasizing that partners need to be more aggressive in delivering security expertise beyond licenses and support.
CANCUN – At their 2016 North American Partner Conference here, security software vendor Kaspersky Lab laid out their strategic direction for the upcoming year, relating it to what they see as the long term market trends, and the best opportunities for partners to monetize them. Kaspersky, which began as primarily an SMB player, began driving into the enterprise several years ago, and is continuing that trend. Increasing their brand awareness is another goal. So is encouraging partners to embrace that ongoing delivery of security expertise is the key opportunity for them.
The theme of this year’s conference – Delivering the Difference – emphasizes how Kaspersky’s partners have to differentiate themselves from their competition – no small feat in a highly congested market and where many customers today are highly price-sensitive. Kaspersky changed up the game plan from some past partner conferences, limiting invites to only their Platinum and Gold partners – the top two of their four tiers. The messaging to the slightly under 100 elite Kaspersky VARs at the event was clear. Kaspersky needs its partners to further ramp up their game to further build the vendor’s brand, particularly by adding more top tier logos.
“To be successful in today’s marketplace, we must find ways to differentiate ourselves from our competitors,” said Jon Whitlock, Kaspersky’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. From Kaspersky’s end, that requires delivering product and services that can have an impact on partners’ and customers’ long term success. For the partners, it means doing a better job of addressing customer needs from a business perspective, and more aggressively driving the Kaspersky brand, especially in the enterprise.
“The enterprise is the hot topic right now,” Whitlock stated. “We really need partners to have more leadership in promoting our product, to make the sales conversation with the customer from the beginning to the very end of the sales cycle.”
Kaspersky’s strategic objectives are ambitious, said Garry Kondakov, Kaspersky’s Chief Business Officer, in his review of the company’s two-year business goals.
“Our ultimate goal is to become the recognized leader for products and services in the global information security market,” Kondakov stressed. He noted that Kaspersky today has approximately 270,000 corporate clients, with 400 million users.
“Revenue is important, but leadership is not just about making more money,” he stressed. “it’s also about building the level of brand awareness, increasing our presence in the media, and building up our user base in existing and new segments. It’s also definitely about our partner community, to have the best partners.”
Whitlock noted that Kaspersky Lab is ranked third in the desirable top right section of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, behind Trend Micro and Intel Security. However, he stressed that in the TOP3 metric for internet security, a metric Kaspersky devised itself to rank vendors by the number of top-three places secured in tests from recognized independent labs, the company has been in the top spot for the past three years.
“These rankings make us a good candidate as a solution for any size organization,” Whitock said.
Building the company’s brand is key to that though. Alexander Erofeev, Kaspersky Lab’s Head of Strategic Marketing, stated that around 49 per cent of U.S. customers know the Kaspersky brand. While Erofeev saw that number as a positive, it could clearly be improved, especially since it is actually down slightly from the 51 per cent the company posted last year.
Expanding Kaspersky’s presence in the enterprise – important in and of itself – is also a critical part of their brand-building strategy.
“A couple years ago, we started to invest in the enterprise and we have now many big global names,” Whitlock said. “But we need more big names to help us grow.” He cited the impact that having the Ferrari race team as a customer has on Kaspersky’s ability to attract other business.
“It’s important because buyers are often big fans of Ferrari,” he said. “It helps for it to be known that they are not only our customer, but our friend.”
This is particularly the case because the complexity of today’s threat landscape, the increase in the number of businesses targeted, and the shortage of experts to deal with it have strengthened the business case for advanced solutions, and expanded the market opportunity.
“There is a very strong opportunity to address security from the business perspective,” Erofeev told the partners. “When you run a sales dialogue on top of talking about normal IT, do not forget about things like this. You need to raise your sales conversation to a CIO level.”
Stefan Gleisner, Senior Market Intelligence Analyst at Kaspersky Lab, also emphasized how today’s trends require partners to adjust their selling approach.
“With the explosion in Internet of Things devices driving increased threats and increases in values of the connected data, these drivers show the need for new integrated solutions – not just point solutions,” he stressed.
Fraud prevention came in as the top corporate security concern in a recent Kaspersky survey, with 30 per cent identifying it as such.
“Businesses have more incentives to transact online now, so everybody needs to be concerned about fraud,” Gleisner said. “You can help them.”
Increased customer concern today for the customer experience is another opening, Gleisner added.
“This gives you a chance to position security as an enabler of improving the customer experience, especially if you can get in in the customer’s planning stage,” he said.
Kaspersky partners also need to understand that ongoing delivery of security expertise is the new opportunity, said Mike Canavan, Vice President of Presales System Engineering at Kaspersky.
“This involves helping customers deal with continually changing security knowledge, and requires making sure the security conversation is framed in a conversation to cover all bases,” Canavan said. Many customers need assistance beyond the initial installation, and this is where security health checks can help. Kaspersky also offers managed service agreements that offer support beyond break fix through Managed Services Agreements.
Canavan also stressed that partners need to be providing security management services to customers, particularly as most customers only use a portion of what their endpoint solutions can do.
“You can provide customers with the ability to protect beyond the licenses, by delivering management expertise,” he told the partners.