Who employs their own security guards any more?

The easy way to get into the MSSP business

As every salesperson knows – right time, right place, right price. You need to add relevance to that list too, especially with factors such as the cybersecurity skills crisis driving the trend toward more and more services and cloud-based IT consumption. Relevance is a one-way ticket to value.

Who Employs Their Own Security Guards Any More?

In fact, unless you can address customer need for services with your own in-house expertise, and demonstrate a good working awareness of virtual IT consumption models rather than just the ‘old world’ of hardware and kit, you will quickly lose your relevance to those that do. Can you fully understand a customer who talks about VMs and hypervisors? Gaining this value needn’t cost a lot, and I predict that the investment in time and effort will pay off very quickly.

A two-speed channel?

Let’s not pretend that customers are going to suddenly stop buying product-based solutions. They aren’t. But hardware growth is undoubtedly slowing, in stark contrast to the runaway expansion of services-based revenues. Fail to transform and the immediate penalty will be failing to take advantage of a huge revenue opportunity.

Resellers are starting to shake-out into those who are adapting to the services-based, cloud-orientated, OPEX-centric, ‘SaaSonomics’ trend – and those who aren’t. Market relevance is draining out of one pool and straight into the other. While one group prepares itself for the impact of new cashflow models and necessary changes to commission plans for salespeople, the other group tries to pretend it isn’t happening. We could quickly see a two-speed channel with both streams diverging away from each other, making it steadily more difficult for old-school slow-starters to close the relevance gap on their born-in-the-cloud competitors.

Make the services dartboard easy to hit

Imagine the many essential layers of cybersecurity infrastructure drawn as the concentric rings of a dartboard or archery target. Reseller partners that want to own and drive value into their customer relationships need to understand how to satisfy needs and exploit opportunities at every level. Solutions and services map against this target with the most expensive and toughest to achieve at the centre, and the lowest scoring, easier pickings around the edge.

Imagine the same many-ringed target transposed onto an organisation’s physical, rather than IT, security needs. At the edges are the security guards who police the perimeter and snuff out the easy-to-detect threats. There are millions of security guards employed in the world, but what company keeps theirs on its own payroll anymore? No, today’s security guards are universally outsourced as an external service, not employed internally. This same trend is taking hold in cybersecurity too.

Partners that don’t currently offer services miss the target completely. As the saying goes, they “couldn’t hit a cow’s bottom with a banjo.” Nul points! Other partners with a comprehensive services arsenal will have a dart in every zone.

My advice is to build up services capability to suit the needs of target customer groups. For example, supporting those who are struggling to prioritise their finite time and effort on the burden of cybersecurity-related admin and process with 24/7 monitoring and alerting.

At the most basic levels, all customers will have an ongoing need for maintenance and support services, and structured, accredited education programmes. Less frequently, global logistics and project management services will be relevant to ensure complex rollouts go smoothly, as will financing/leasing in support of those OPEX rather than CAPEX payment preferences.

All of these services are arguably around the periphery of our dartboard target. Offer these in a structured and productised way, and you stand to syphon off significant annuity revenue streams. This leaves the way clear to collaborate with the customer on the more valuable projects that are integral to their business, with professional and consulting services that follow the lifecycle of the IT estate within the business – not just answering new requirements when they emerge.

I urge you to look at how the market is changing and see how hard it will be to carry on hitting your targets without recalibrating your approach. Your relevance is at stake, and services are the weapons you need.

Exclusive Group’s ‘PASSport’ to Global Services Offering

New service options offer global reach with local touch

PARIS, FRANCE – April 25th 2017 – Exclusive Group, the value-added services and technologies (VAST) group, today launched its PASSport Global Services division. The launch is the culmination of a worldwide project to define and integrate a comprehensive set of high value professional pre and post technical services that enable channel partners in every territory to deliver greater market relevance, differentiation and annuity-generating opportunities.

David Ellis is Exclusive Group’s Director of Global Services and the driving force behind the PASSport Global Services launch: “We now have a universal proposition available to partners across our APAC and EMEA footprint with truly global capability into more than 100 countries. At the core of this is a new enhanced premium support service that delivers in-country local language first touch support eight hours a day – backed by a global fully manned 24/7 support capability; a truly differentiated proposition.’

“Following significant investments in the digitalisation of our support infrastructure, we are now able to offer a unified customer support experience that delivers consistency of delivery and service level targets.”

The service sets available from PASSport Global Services include:

• PASSport Consulting
• Pre-sales Engineering
• Professional Services
• PASSport Logistics Services
• PASSport Support Services
• PASSport Training Services

As part of the launch, PASSport Global Services is also introducing MARS (Monitoring, Alerting & Reporting Services) to complement the managed services propositions of VARs and MSP/MSSP partners. “MARS is our response to our partners’ desire to climb the value chain in services, complementing their higher value consultancy and incident response services with basic, entry-level support options. It also reflects the deepening cyber security skills shortage,” added Ellis. “It helps partners tap into the customer need to outsource visibility and control of certain technology solutions, driving new revenue streams and becoming more strategically valuable in the process. MARS is initially for next-generation firewall (NGFW) and Wi-Fi deployments, but we plan to add to this in future.”

According to Barrie Desmond, COO of Exclusive Group, the benefits of PASSport Global Services extend to vendor and reseller partners alike: “Vendors benefit from added scale and additional premium service offerings thereby being able to focus more on core R&D and innovation, not on creating increasingly bigger support organisations. This is also a strong proposition for our global system integrator partners as well as our core community of VARs and MSPs, meeting their scale requirements, complementing their skills and increasing their relevance to new and existing customers in tandem to opening incremental revenue streams.”

The Exclusive Group Project – how to do what has never been done before

For years, the choice facing vendors was to compromise scale for value, or value for scale. Now they can achieve both – value and scale – together!

With the global IT market being such a dynamic and volatile place, it’s a good time to remind both ourselves and our partners why we opted to hook up together in the first place, what attracted us to each other and what keeps the spark in the relationship!

From the start, the Exclusive Group has been restless and unpredictable; we have not conformed. Indeed, we have been daring and audacious. Vendors have always loved this, but while in some quarters their lust for change and disruption has faded, we still hold true to the principles that brought us together.

We’ve stuck to our principles of valuing entrepreneurialism and relationships over imitation and centralisation. We’ve continued to experiment with new technologies and techniques whilst investigating exciting shifts in the market. And we’ve extended our footprint globally whilst keeping local relevance. Above all – we continue to add value-based services.

VAST vision pays dividends

Our unique business model has brought unprecedented growth and success, both through organic growth and astute acquisitions. We’ve complemented our cybersecurity focus with a bold foray into the rapid growth market of hybrid cloud with our web-scale business –BigTec – and we’ve massively extended our overall services capability.

But our project is far from over. The global technology market is such a fickle mistress that we can take nothing for granted.

But look at the facts and our VAST (value-added services and technologies) model is undoubtedly working. The people who matter seem to like what we do.

To examine the Exclusive Group project in more detail, consider the traditional models of value-added distribution that we disrupt.

The ‘unattainable’ top-right of scale and value

There is a niche for small, specialist national VADs in our industry. Built around a handful of good commercial and technical people with strong local channel relationships, they prosper through the value they create. Vendors like them, to an extent. For all their specialism and local relevance, they lack scale and resources, and the prospect of having to manage them all to achieve major channel rollouts is becoming even less of a turn-on.

By contrast, broadline distributors have plenty of scale and reach. They give the illusion of pressing all the right buttons. They can supply global projects through a single point of contact with comparative ease, and there are few limits to credit and logistics. Their Achilles’ heel is a distinct absence of true value. Vendors grudgingly accept that the broadliner doesn’t go the extra mile for a deal or to find innovative solutions to market problems. They won’t adapt quickly. Being corporately run, rather than by entrepreneurs, the broadliner’s biggest drawback is its lack of local relevance.

For decades, these approaches polarised the distribution market. Vendors chose either to compromise scale for value, or value for scale. More often than not, they would outgrow one for the other once market adoption of its emerging technology had reached its inflection point. Resellers who enjoyed good margins on emerging technologies from local VADs watched them vanish overnight when the broadliners moved in and commoditised the market.

For some of our vendors, the security and predictability of these steady-going, conservative suitors may offer the promise of short-term benefit, but I ask them, “If you still value your technology, if you still aim to disrupt and re-invent yourselves, if you still desire excitement and risk, then why would you align with a partner that is so incompatible?”

By any measure, these are partners that are shrinking, not expanding; that deliver declining or stagnant revenues and profit; that are extracting local value and retreating to so called ‘low-cost economies’!

Is this what they want? Decline, stagnation and the status quo? I sense this is exactly the opposite to what they want. What they really need is our project!

Go global, stay local, add value – this is our project. It’s one that has never been achieved by a VAD before. This is why it is so important to continue reminding people of this; why Exclusive Group and its vendor partners were drawn together in the first place, and why we will continue to succeed in the future…

Exclusive Group Strengthens Global BigTec Proposition

Recruits Group leader to sustain BigTec’s steep international growth curve and manage global vendor relationships

PARIS, FRANCE – April 05th 2017 – Exclusive Group, the value-added services and technologies (VAST) group, today announced the appointment of Martin Bichler to coordinate the continuing expansion of its 100m€+ BigTec VAD business. As BigTec Vendor Manager for EMEA & APAC, Martin runs the business management of revenue and profit targets and is responsible for implementing and developing the global BigTec proposition alongside in-country sales teams.

“Martin is a talented channel operator with readymade BigTec credentials that make him the ideal choice to drive further expansion and success of our datacentre transformation VAD business,” said Barrie Desmond, COO of Exclusive Group. “BigTec is at the forefront of technology disruption, shaping the future of enterprise IT and representing a significant growth opportunity for our channel partners. Martin’s close vendor relationships and first-hand experience of rapidly-changing channel dynamics will be vital to continuing our relevance and success in every local market.”

“Major IT trends like advanced automation, hybrid cloud, hyperconvergence and DevOps produce many significant new business opportunities for partners when they learn about the whole BigTec story,” said Martin Bichler. “Taking advantage of these changes is a defining challenge for channel partners around the world, and one that BigTec supports them to achieve. To join this business and help shape its destiny is a real privilege for me, and I look forward to making a difference at global and local levels.”

Martin Bichler brings over 17 years’ experience in IT sales and channel management, including a decade in value-added distribution with Azlan and Arrow. His most recent roles were at Brocade, working with OEM and reseller partners in Germany and EMEA-wide.