Supporting SMB’s digital transformation 

Sean Campbell, Director Canadian Channels, Fortinet

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) reports around 1.2 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Canada, ranging in size from micro businesses with one to four employees to large companies with hundreds in staff. With October marking Small Business Week, it’s an excellent time to examine the opportunity to meet the growing demands of this key segment of the market.

Regardless of size, all businesses are facing increasing pressure to provide their customers with digital experiences. Today’s customers and even employees want all the conveniences that digital transformation can bring. With the right technologies and services, SMB customers can up their game, attract and retain talent, build brand loyalty, and even compete with larger organizations.

Channel partners can be the gateway to these new digital experiences by providing guidance, products, and services that ensure their customers can modernize, compete, and defend their businesses against growing cyber risk.

Supporting a growth mindset 

Channel partners can win SMB market share by prioritizing the best service and the right products to enable them to modernize. According to a recent Techaisle survey, over 80 per cent of SMBs report they are already on the path to digital transformation.

Smart investments can transform a business from the inside out – creating better workflows, increasing responsiveness, and enabling business at speed and scale. There are three key areas channel partners should support SMBs around – cloud, mobility, and customer relationship management (CRM).

Cloud computing can help SMBs amp up their processing power and improve productivity, often at a lower entry-level price point. Cloud is also attractive because it allows businesses to quickly scale with minimal impacts, making it easier to maintain a growth mindset.

With the rise of work-from-anywhere and BYOD, smart SMBs are constantly seeking to improve accessibility across customer, employee and partner devices. New mobile apps that reach consumers wherever they are, connect from any device, or share data are increasing in popularity — along with consumers’ expectations.

With customers being a priority for SMB’s, implementing robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools can help unlock the power of customer engagement. Collecting and organizing customer and prospect information makes it easier to personalize digital experiences. Each of these investments – cloud, mobile and CRM are critical first steps in digital transformation but must be made alongside a commitment to security improvements.

Protect and serve

Digital transformation without security can harm SMBs and leave them at risk of cyber-attack. Channel partners can protect and champion customers by ensuring security is central to any modernization strategy. That attention to security is paramount for businesses of all sizes, as current trends show a rising risk factor for all companies is the growth of cybercrime-as-a-service.

Cybercrime does not discriminate. SMBs take on the same risk as their larger competitors when it comes to cybersecurity. From data leaks to cybercriminals looking for an easy payout, SMBs might even be more attractive targets simply because they lack the resources larger enterprises employ to protect their networks.

As SMBs introduce new technologies, they need help understanding how they interact with their current networks. Complexity can lead to both performance and security issues, as well as increased costs. Channel partners have an opportunity to provide guidance so new investments work with or replace complex networks, promote productivity across locations, and increase visibility across the expanded network.

Reduce the risk 

Fortinet partners are uniquely able to help SMB customers deploy cloud technologies, expand device accessibility, and integrate third-party CRM tools while enhancing security. Fortinet’s integrated tools offer unparalleled visibility across the network, simplifying management and even speeding up digital transformation.

For example, installing Fortinet’s FortiGate Unified Threat Management on a customer’s network can take as little as 20 minutes. This solution can stop attacks before they happen, blocking attempts to gain entry to the network. Paired with FortiAP and FortiSwitch, SMBs can securely prioritize business applications for optimal traffic flow and easily expand switch ports – taking advantage of the cloud to speed up modernization and growth affordably.

Channel partners can also support SMBs by helping them integrate strong identity and access management processes, web application firewalls (WAFs) and endpoint security solutions like FortiClient to help protect against rising cyber threats.

Extended support 

Channel partners can also differentiate themselves by offering services that expand the capabilities of their SMB customers’ IT and security teams. Customizable offerings that can be purchased as a service are an attractive value-add, including anti-spam support, intrusion prevention, cloud sandboxing, mobile security, application control, and more.

For this reason, Fortinet offers advantages for channel partners looking to meet their SMB customers’ needs. Partners can take advantage of product training and technical support and benefit from specialized contracts along with access to industry expertise. It’s an advantage that enables our partners to deliver real value by helping get their clients on the path to modernization while reducing complexity and risk to their growing business.

Sean Campbell is Director of Canadian Channels at Fortinet