Fortra sees rebrand from HelpSystems as integral to channel plans

Fortra hopes to complete the integration of companies acquired in 2022 by the 2023 fiscal year, but they are holding to their position that the integration will not result in a purge of partners.

Renee Ritter, Fortra’s VP of Channel

HelpSystems has announced that it has rebranded as Fortra, a name they believe is more representative of their pivot in the last few years towards cybersecurity. The new brand also is designed to unite the company, which has acquired multiple companies during this period, under a single brand. The fuller integration of the acquired companies will be a part of this process, but the company says they don’t intend to cause disruption during this integration process.

“HelpSystems helped customers for decades, but in the last four or five years,  we shifted our focus to cybersecurity and automated solutions,” said Renee Ritter, Fortra’s VP of Channel. While we were very surgical with all the acquisition targets, we have grown to over 3000 people globally and now have 30,000 customers. We are a very different company than we have ever been. We are recognized as one of the top cybersecurity providers in the world. The new name reflects our new positions in the market. It was time to unite the company in a single brand.”

As HelpSystems, Fortra acquired multiple companies in recent years, which they have been integrating comparatively slowly.

“When we acquire businesses, the goal is not to be disruptive, so there is a period of time for them to get acclimated to Fortra,” Ritter stated. “Integrating the channel programs is  a component of that. We looked at what the integration timeline would be, especially since some had channel programs that were different than ours. We had to be very surgical about it. For this reason, all of our acquisitions were initially separate, but we knew that we had to get all of these programs integrated. None from 2022 have yet been integrated, but the previous ones have been, and all will be fully integrated going into 2023.”

Ritter also said that from a business perspective, there was no rush to integrate portals and channel structures.

“If they are selling more than one product, they are used to dealing with more than one portal,” she stated. “This wasn’t a race to the finish line to make sure everything was integrated. We have worked with the channel managers to encourage cross-selling across the portfolio. While a single portal is ideal, we aren’t going to just make that leap and regret it. Some partners have shorter runways and some have a longer tail, and we need more nuanced requirements to find the right way to move them into our portal.”

Ritter emphasized that Fortra had already begun integrating solutions prior to the rebrand.

“We are continuing the work to integrate our solutions,” she said. “We already offer solutions bundles and we’re working towards a platform-as-a-service approach, integrating multiple capabilities into a single platform.”

While the programs are being integrated with care, the partner ranks of the acquired companies are not being purged.

“We have to look at partners who lock arms with us, and who collaboratively deliver transactions,” Ritter said. “That has been our focus. But we haven’t gone through a full winnowing process. We will make decisions about how we may or may not winnow. These less productive partners really aren’t hurting us. Some have growth potential, and we may try to reinvigorate some of these.”

Ritter stressed that for partners, nothing is changing as a result of the rebrand.

“We won’t be standing still,” she said. “In our 2023 planning, we will adapt to changes in the market. The theme for 2023 is solidly around enablement with the new partner program, but while we will look at enhanced onboarding, the focus will be on developing key partners. The rebrand further unifies us with them.

“With every acquired business, there are different Go-to-Market strategies,” Ritter concluded. “How do we modify the program to accommodate that, or how do we modify what they are doing. These are hard things. It’s what we get paid to do.”