As a reseller, what threats do you believe your customers face? According to a recent study released by Dell, partners believe the top three risks are network security, mobile security and cloud security. Dell surveyed 120 of its channel partners who attended the first annual Security Peak Performance Conference held last week in Orlando. Over the course of the conference, Dell released the survey results. Marvin Blough, executive director, worldwide channels and alliances, Dell Software, shared his insights about how resellers can allay their customers’ security fears.
Fifty one percent of respondents at Dell’s conference reported that their customers have expressed concern about unified threat management and network security in the coming year. BYOD, compliance and ATP are three other major threats to Dell channel partner clients.
“As you can see, the customer needs are pressing,” said Blough. What can channel partners do to make customers feel more secure? “First, many customers organizations are facing a shortage in cyber security skills, so trained and skilled partners can make a tremendous difference for these customers,” he said. “Partners need to be prepared to deal with their customers’ most sensitive information. The goal is for partners to serve as advisors rather than one-time, transactional product suppliers. When partners become trusted advisors in the security space, they can differentiate themselves from the competition and create a real partnership with their customers that will benefit both parties for years to come.”
Blough emphasized that part of the channel strategy regarding security involves a mindset shift. “Second, shift how you think about security and how you talk about it with customers,” he remarked. “The time to stop thinking about security as a practice of restriction and denial is over. It’s time to talk about security as an enabling function for the objectives your organization wants to achieve. For example, if customers are going to take advantage of emerging trends like BYOD and cloud, they require a secure and compliant foundation that mitigates risk, won’t compromise efficiency or productivity, and can be built in spite of chronic resource constraints.”
In addition, channel partners must continue to pursue educational opportunities. “Third, get educated and stay current so you can advise customers on the newest security threats on the horizon, such as securing the Internet of Things,” Blough advised. “Keep up to remain an invaluable resource to customers.”
An important part of continuing education is a strong partner program. “Effective channel partner training is critical to help partners grow their business,” Blough asserted. “An effective training program must include a mix of valuable online and instructor-led training offered to meet all different kinds of partner needs, and must be offered for free or at a low cost. Offering certification via advanced competencies is another important pillar of any partner training program.”
Blough commented that customers’ apprehensions about security are an opportunity for channel partners. “Many organizations are facing a shortage in cyber security skills and there is a great deal of fear and uncertainty, particularly with the recent breaches and attacks,” he said. “The attacks are becoming more complex and prevalent, and this makes customers even more committed to securing skilled partners who can protect with their customers’ most sensitive information. Along the same lines, many customers are turning their security needs over to Service Providers who can lift the entire burden of IT and/or security management to ensure that a true expert has it well in hand. This creates tremendous opportunities for partners to serve as advisors and long-term service providers rather than one-time, transactional product suppliers. When partners become trusted advisors in the security space, they can differentiate themselves from the competition and create a real partnership with their customers that will benefit both parties for years to come. This is particularly important as customers meet the needs of their own end users to introduce solutions for emerging trends and requirements around BYOD and cloud. Customers require a secure and compliant foundation that mitigates risk, won’t compromise efficiency or productivity, and can be built in spite of chronic resource constraints.”