Exclusive Capital Hits the Ground Running in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Channel partners across DACH gain access to new IT financing and leasing services through Exclusive Capital GmbH

MUNICH, GERMANY – March 15th 2016 – Exclusive Capital, the financing and leasing division of Exclusive Group, has completed the latest stage in its rapid global expansion by opening business operations in the DACH region. Among the first to leverage Exclusive Capital GmbH are existing channel partners of local Exclusive Networks and BigTec VADs; benefiting from new value-adding services that create bigger project opportunities and close deals faster. Experienced IT financing specialist Eva Duerrwanger has been recruited to head up the business.

“We have a great opportunity in the DACH region, harnessing the expertise of Eva and the support of Exclusive’s local business units to help partners succeed in the face of changing IT consumption models,” said Franck Laga, managing director of Exclusive Capital. “Adding the DACH region to our presence in France and the UK means we now address the three largest European markets as well as Belgium and Luxembourg. We are investing for aggressive future growth and will continue to look for further expansion opportunities in other parts of the Exclusive Group global footprint.”

The creation of Exclusive Capital GmbH is the result of a joint venture, majority controlled by Exclusive Group alongside Germany-based leasing firm Miller Leasing Miete (MLM). Operating as a specialist for IT financing, owner-managed MLM has been creating added value for more than 35 years, for vendors, distribution partners, resellers and customers. Targeting rapid growth in its first three years, the arrangement combines MLM’s recognised financing expertise with the go-to-market resources of the Exclusive Group, including access to its large community of channel partners.

“IT asset leasing represents a huge opportunity for our partners, especially now we can make access to finance as fast and easy as possible because we’re fully integrated with Exclusive Capital’s services,” said Martin Twickler, managing director for Exclusive Networks Germany. “As IT consumption has become more utility-based, and IT spending more opex-orientated, partners can take advantage through Exclusive Capital’s flexible range of specialist services that increase deal sizes, develop customer loyalty and dramatically improve their business cashflow.”

Global Channel Ace Appointed at Exclusive Group

Former key Arrow heavyweight joins to add impact with global vendors and systems integrators

PARIS, FRANCE – March 17th 2016 – Exclusive Group, the global value-added services and technologies (VAST) group, has hired Stéphane Duplaix, the highly respected EMEA Sales Director of Arrow ECS, to head the company’s ambitious expansion plans as Group Director, Strategic Alliances. Stéphane will steer the Group’s fast growing partnerships business with an increasing number of global systems integrators and key vendor partners. Stéphane brings considerable experience in the cybersecurity and datacentre distribution industries, and will play a pivotal role in maximising Exclusive’s expanded international footprint, rich services offering and ‘pace setting’ vendor portfolio.

“Stéphane joins the team at an exciting time,” said Barrie Desmond, COO of Exclusive Group. “We’re on the radar of an increasing number of global SIs and service providers, and maximising this is a major priority for us. In parallel, our vendors continue to ‘market-outperform’, and our global footprint expands almost weekly. This perfect storm of opportunity needs harnessing and we could think of no one better than Stéphane to help achieve this. We’re very pleased and excited that he’s decided to take up the challenge.”

“I’m looking forward to helping our leading partners achieve even more value and market success through the many bilateral opportunities created by this fast-changing ‘Exclusive’ landscape,” said Stéphane Duplaix, newly appointed Director of Strategic Alliances at Exclusive Group. “I’ve seen Exclusive Group shake up the market for value-added distribution, challenge the old business models and offer a new service-centric vision. Achieving this on a global scale will be unique, and I’m thrilled I can play a key part in this next and most exciting part of the journey.”

At Arrow, Stéphane Duplaix managed a significant channel sales organisation across 30+ countries. Prior to this he accumulated considerable success at businesses including McAfee, F-Secure, Azlan and EdenWall Technologies. His wealth of experience within security, networking and datacentre channel ecosystems is directly relevant to both VAD divisions (Exclusive Networks and BigTec) of Exclusive Group.

Exclusive Networks Expands European Distribution with BlackBerry

New agreement targets greater geographic coverage and deeper market penetration

LONDON, UK – March 15, 2016 – Cybersecurity VAD Exclusive Networks is growing its distribution agreement with BlackBerry into Benelux, DACH and the UK following outstanding successes achieved by Exclusive Networks in Australia and the Nordic region. Exclusive Networks will now offer the full BlackBerry enterprise software portfolio as part of its services, which includes among others the recently introduced Good® Secure EMM Suites by BlackBerry, a comprehensive set of mobile security, management, productivity and collaboration offerings including best-in-class app security and containerization, Identity and Access Management and Enterprise File Sync and Share with file level data protection.

“BlackBerry has developed genuinely disruptive new technology and has been a leader in security for the mobile enterprise for many years,” said Barrie Desmond, COO at Exclusive Group. “We believe this represents exciting new opportunities for the channel, as customers strive to achieve maximum productivity and security for all their mobilised applications and data from a single platform.”

“BlackBerry and Exclusive Networks have made a great team in Australia and the Nordics, and we’re confident about extending our partnership to bring customers the most innovative and secure solutions across more territories,” said Carl Wiese, President Global Sales at BlackBerry.

Exclusive Networks will play an integral role in expanding market penetration of BlackBerry’s enterprise software portfolio into Tier 1 reseller accounts and target verticals, using its strong partner relationships and big data analytics to maximise tactical and strategic opportunities. Exclusive Networks teams in more than 10+ countries will also help existing partners develop more cybersecurity-focused technical pre-sales capabilities and new go-to-market propositions.

Unknown Unknowns – The Ultimate Test for Cybersecurity

I’ve realised that, over the last couple of years in cyber, the threats that get deeper, quicker and hide longer inside companies’ IT infrastructures, are the stuff we don’t know about. That doesn’t worry cybersecurity experts all that much, as the very fact of ‘knowing that you don’t know’ about a new virus or malware is actually half the battle. But what if you don’t know what you don’t know?

Tell someone that your work involves cybersecurity and it’s amazing how quickly that they open up about their own experiences.

This is exactly what happened during a recent train journey where I got talking with the guy sitting opposite me. He wasn’t a technologist at all, but turned out to be a board-level management executive at a major international business.

We got chatting about some examples of the latest clever cyber threats I’d heard about, when he suddenly started telling me this story about the mysterious theft of $250,000 from his business.

One Friday the previous month, a colleague at his London headquarters was asked to authorise a transaction by one of the smaller offices in the Caribbean. His company bids for lots of major projects all over the world and it isn’t unusual to submit a bid bond as part of the tendering/RFP process.

A bid bond is a useful way for organisations to ensure that only serious bids are submitted for their projects, and any business tendering for work see them as routine and low-risk.

Anyway, the sum required for this bid bond was $250,000, but the email requesting the money said it had to be lodged by 5:30pm Eastern Standard Time, before the office closed for the weekend and the tender deadline passed.

The amount was transferred at around 11:00am EST and the local office was notified. It was the last time the money was ever seen!

I explained that this sounded like a spear-phishing attack carried out by an intelligent and patient cybercriminal using a combination of inside knowledge and social engineering to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

Here’s what he said in response:

“Yes, we know that now. We know a lot more and are vigilant against this kind of trick happening again. Our problem is not having enough known knowns. We would like to know more about threats that we’re supposed to know about, as well as unknown threats we can never predict. We have few known unknowns – and even fewer unknown unknowns.”

This phrase about ‘known knowns’, was introduced by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during a 2002 Pentagon briefing about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Rumsfeld said:

“…As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And … it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

At the time Donald Rumsfeld came in for a lot of criticism for his comments, because many people felt they didn’t make any sense and were an unnecessarily complex way of explaining the issues around security intelligence.

14 years on, and in the context of new cybersecurity threats that nobody could have predicted back then, the phrase makes perfect sense. Combating known threats is an essential part of a cybersecurity strategy. It goes alongside advanced capabilities to anticipate, capture and – ultimately – learn from unknown threats.

What struck me about the bid bond incident is how unlikely the chances that the threat was also an ‘unknown unknown’ to other organisations. Certain kinds of emails from certain kinds of people asking for money for certain reasons flew around that organisation every day, so the threat went unnoticed. In another business, alarm bells would have started ringing straight away.

Everyone involved in cybersecurity must always keep in mind that customers have different weak spots and different processes, and they each manage risk in different ways.

There are exciting opportunities around those cybersecurity solutions that can take the fear factor out of unknown quantities, and make them ‘known’. But there continue to be significant opportunities around those protection measures that apply the universe of known cyber threat knowledge, to keep us safe every day.

Pre-Sales Doesn’t Mean Free-Sales

Most sales guys sell FREE sales, not PRE sales… sound familiar? Well it’s the same story all over the world.

On a recent trip to Sweden I heard someone really talking my language when he said: “I hate it when these salespeople think pre-sales means free-sales.”

I’m lucky that English is the main language in the tech industry, and terms like ‘pre-sales’ transcend whether the direct translation is in Swedish or whatever. But he could have been speaking any language and I would still have understood the thrust of his argument: that people everywhere are guilty of overlooking real value!

Pre-sales is one of many processes in a sales cycle that need to be completed in order for the customer to sign on the dotted line. It strikes at the heart of what CFOs fail to pick up in their spreadsheets: that sales aren’t 100% associated with the individual salesperson – unless the underlying product is just a commodity.

Of course pre-sales have little value in a commodity-driven, transactional sales environment where the channel just shovels technology along the supply chain and it ends up with the customer. The customer doesn’t need a POC (proof of concept), or architected design to convince them of this solution, or pre-staging to determine configuration and integration with other systems. Box-shifters don’t even need eval kit!

Conversely, when the objective is penetrating new markets and high value opportunities with disruptive new technology, pre-sales is a critical part of a value generating mix. Other frequently overlooked dimensions to this include: project “speccing”, ownership of the customer relationship/customer insights, demand creation through marketing, customer lead and opportunity detection, and captivating the customer through broader market/technology vision.

Where vendors and channel partners seek value, they need to understand where the value needs to come from. Most importantly of all, they need to recognise that value must be paid for.

I believe it is universally true that, “something given away for nothing has no value.” What I mean by this is that you can’t expect the recipient of something to appreciate the value of it, unless they’ve had to pay for it.

What my Swedish friend highlights is the lazy disregard for pre-sales as a valuable deliverable in its own right. That laziness means lost revenue for the salesperson concerned. These individuals clearly don’t have the skill or the self-belief to assert the value of an integral process.

So it isn’t just pre-sales who should be enraged when their skills are given away for free, it’s the owners and principals of channel companies who employ them. Valuable, expensive resources can’t be given away for zero revenue return and treated as a business overhead.

Think about it: “something given away for nothing has no value” has a lot in common with the old adage, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” We’ve all had business lunches thrown for us, and while they appear to be free, you know are indirectly “paying” for it through some unspoken favour to be returned in the future. This “payment” demonstrates that you value the lunch – else why the hell did you accept it!?