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Channel partners are an extremely valuable link in the chain, helping vendors to sell their products or to enter new markets, and proving invaluable to end customers as well. In the world of technology, many channel partners are consultants, systems integrators and value-added resellers (VARs).
In cybersecurity, channel partners are the backbone of the industry. By some estimates, 90% or more of transactions happen through channel partners.
How the channel benefits end customers
It is vital that every organisation does its best to ensure that its security posture is as solid as it can be, but not every organisation has the required cyber expertise to hand. Smaller organisations may lack the budget and personnel to do everything themselves, whilst large enterprises may need help with building and implementing security plans and in tying together multiple security controls from a wide range of vendors.
According to AuditBoard, the average organisation has 88 relationships with third-party vendors, rising to 173 for large enterprises. Many security purchases have historically been made to solve a specific problem, leading to data sprawl, lack of visibility into the technology estate and perhaps even obsolescence. Widespread uptake of cloud environments is increasing the challenges organisations face.
Purchasing through the channel can help to make security easier to understand and use more effectively. This can help to improve the security posture for any organisation. A channel organisation can help to guide an organisation through the entire process from identifying requirements to deploying a solution that fits its particular needs and objectives. It will work with the organisation to understand the specific business, its objectives, goals and challenges, whilst multi-skilled technical staff will work to design the ideal solution.
Customers should look for technology-agnostic suppliers that can bundle together complementary solutions from multiple vendors, helping to simplify the processes and reduce the costs of dealing with multiple vendors. The supplier should also take into account the technologies that the organisation already has in place to make the best of existing investments. Customer references are a must to gauge the experience that the supplier has gained from working with multiple customers.
How channel partnerships benefit vendors and partners
Many technology vendors have been investing in partnership programmes recently. One example is security operations vendor Expel, which has recently revamped its partner programme, looking to develop long-term relationships that are beneficial for all involved. It is now taking a partner-first approach. As well as its traditional home turf of the US, this is helping it to expand into new markets internationally, recently opening up its services to customers in the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden with the help of channel partners. This is beneficial both to Expel since such partners are likely to have an existing network of customers and prospects, as well as customers since they will have a better grasp of the local business culture, market conditions and regulations.
Yet, Expel is looking for quality over quantity in terms of partnerships so that it can offer a white-glove service to its partners for all stages of the partnership. At present, it is focusing on VARs, but intends to broaden out the programme to include managed and professional service providers.
The benefits for channel partners that join the programme are numerous. They are provided with a partner portal through which they can access dedicated support, marketing materials, training and certification. Each has a dedicated account manager from the team at Expel.
The programme is divided into three tiers so that partners can choose the level that suits them best, offering discounts according to the level of involvement for a particular partner.
Whatever level they choose, each partner has access to the technology stack and services offered by Expel, including managed detection and response (MDR), remediation, phishing protection, threat hunting, and vulnerability prioritisation. They can benefit from existing integrations, which currently number more than 100, as well as offering their own from existing relationships. This will help them to increase their customer reach and profitability by being able to offer such a well-rounded offering.
The bottom line
Rather than trying to go it alone, customers, vendors and partners will all benefit from such a programme. Vendors and partners will find it more possible for all to uncover opportunities for expanding the business, and for end customers to ensure that their security needs are met in an efficient and beneficial manner.