With threat vectors looming large in these troubled times, enterprises are looking to align with cyber security players who have a broader portfolio and can protect them at various levels. In an exclusive interaction with CRN India, Sachin Relwani, the newly appointed Channel Head of Kaspersky (South Asia), shares more on how the company stands committed to all its customers and partners
As a Channel Head of Kaspersky, what are your immediate priorities? Please share your roadmap for 2020 and beyond
We want to build up a strong channel partner ecosystem and the best way is to enable our partners with knowledge and trainings on Kaspersky products, solutions and services. A well enabled partner is capable and mature to understand and respond to customer pain points and escalations in a structured and confident manner.
Moreover, organisations today are in search of partners who can be relied upon for their consistency, capability, technology know-how, and cyber maturity so that such partners can bring in the much-required skill sets and experience at the time of implementation and time-to-time sustenance and upgrade of such cyber solutions. Needless to say, these partners would further function as our extended teams and will play a major role in our growth trajectory for FY’20 and the years ahead.
I look forward to strengthening the partner ecosystem in the region and build a passionate environment where everyone is committed to making the cyber-world a safer place. Working as “One Team One Vision” is our goal and we aim to grow together.
You have assumed this role at a time when there are going to be very tough business conditions. How are you ensuring your partners have the limited impact to their business?
There couldn’t have been a better time to be in this business, wherein there is so much digital adaptation happening across all the business verticals at the customer end. The market is hungry to adapt and align itself with new age tech vendors who have a larger cyber security portfolio and can cater and protect organisations at various levels and from various threat vectors.
Given the Kaspersky portfolio and service offerings and the willingness of the market to explore new technologies, Kaspersky is perfectly positioned to support the partners in fulfilling the tech gap for its customers. In fact, I foresee that Kaspersky would become the “go to” brand in the partner community due to its reach, partner friendly business models, partner enablement plans and its depth of product portfolio and service offerings in the cyber security space.
There’s a saying – “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. Being available in business at unusual times’ is important for the client. Furthermore, we are doing technology briefing webinars, awareness sessions and training campaigns for our partners so as to ensure they are able to provide our customers with all the best practices about security adoption and awareness for their organisations.
These dynamic times are not only critical, but also most unforeseen and unexpected, much like a true cyber security scenario. Kaspersky stands committed to all its partners and customers in such troubled times and is delivering from the front for all kinds of cyber security situations faced by partners and customers today.
Kaspersky has a strong channel ecosystem in place. How are you looking to further strengthen this partnership?
A strong channel ecosystem is very important for the good health of the business. We run a programme called Kaspersky United Partner Program, which does more to help our partners do business with us. We are looking at specialised partners to cover and serve the top enterprise customers and look at different industry verticals like BFSI, healthcare, manufacturing, and IT/ITeS in a bigger and broader way.
We are also extensively looking to reach out to SMBs in the country via partner ecosystem, which have presence in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Since digital transformation is key to sectors like education and government, we are up to the task of creating this ecosystem as well. In terms of initiatives, a well-structured, multi-tier execution plan has been rolled out across the channel community that creates checks and balances for the partner when they align with our distributors and invest their resources on technology enablement and training programmes.
Partners get to enjoy enhanced benefits when they qualify in terms of quality parameters on their sales and tech teams. These partners are not only classified on the sales they bring in, but a lot of weightage is also constructed around the quality of resources on technology parameters so as to motivate them for a 360-degree association with us.
This enhances the cyber awareness and skills of these partners on the Kaspersky platform, thereby assuring better partner response and quality to the end-user. With this, we are creating an ecosystem of a safer cyber world for the customer on Kaspersky products and services.
In your bid to reach the remotest part of the country, any particular strategy being adopted for geo-expansion where your partners will play a critical role?
We are executing our strategy with our value-added resellers and distributors to successfully extend our reach to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities across the length and breadth of the country. Our strategy is a combination of incentivising partner field teams (sales and pre-sales) as well as promoting our United Partner Program in remote locations, so as to aggressively motivate the partner organisations as well as their field force to focus on Kaspersky solutions as their GTM in the cyber security line of business.
Besides, there are other quality parameters like creating a trained tech field force with implementation skill-sets and sustenance modules wherein partner firms get awarded with higher tier of partnerships with Kaspersky, which in turn, empowers them to better partner benefits. This entire process is not only rewarding to the partner but also cyclic in nature, strengthening the bond between Kaspersky and our Tier 2 and Tier 3 partners.
How is Kaspersky transforming the current business challenges into opportunities for growth, both for the organisation as well as partner ecosystem?
The challenges created during the existing situations have definitely opened a plethora of opportunities for us. We find ourselves closer to our end-users as well as the partner community like never before. Our partners are spending and investing more time with us, ensuring that their field force has completed maximum certifications, as this improves partner benefits to their firm.
At the end-user level, we have successfully conducted cyber awareness training and campaigns with our clients, especially to impart best practices to their work force during this WFH scenarios. Further, we have drafted cyber policies for our clients to keep them cyber safe, functional and available when working from home.
Extra benefits like free cyber trainings for partners and end-users have been imparted to ensure cyber alertness and awareness for all. We are proud to say that we got a chance to “walk the talk” with our partners as well as customer community and that has definitely created love and respect for us in their minds.
Has this called for re-alignment of your go-to-market strategy as well? Any changes / modifications being done in your partner programme ‘Kaspersky United’ and other channel related initiatives?
The response and respect that we have received from our partners and users during these days has been unprecedented. This has strengthened our confidence and enthusiasm around the plan, activities and approach for this market.
The only change that I foresee for now is that we would be stepping up our speed to market and this time with more rigour and intensity and go all out to win hearts and commitment of our partners and deals with our prospects. This would create a goodwill for Kaspersky and set the stage for a legacy to be followed and remembered for a long time.
What all support being extended to your partners so that they are able to provide round-the-clock service to their customers in the current scenario?
As a global cyber security solutions company, we ensure that our teams have a DNA that inculcates a sense of preparedness for any crisis management and to deliver results on 24×7 basis. We have ensured each of our overall teams, including sales, support, operations, and finance, are well-equipped with laptops and internet dongles, enabling them to work from home at any point of time. Remote access service has been a requirement in our field of work, and continues to be a “business as usual” kind of activity for us.
Trainings and enablement have always been the core of our partner strategy for the past several months and we have been focusing on the same with even more intensity and rigour under the on-going lockdown situation.
We are not only conducting sessions relentlessly with our partner community, but also working in close tandem with our distributors creating a task force that is ready to take any type of cyber security challenges and situations. This entire ecosystem is backed by the Core Kaspersky Support Team based in India that is alert, equipped, and ready for action at any point of time.
Soon we will witness changes in business models, wherein there will be far more remote workers in any organisation. In such a scenario, what are the best practices partner organisations should follow?
The rise of remote workers will spur demand for robust security solutions. Being available in business at unusual times and providing non-stop support to customers is key for Kaspersky and the partner community. Organisations around the globe are experiencing a tremendous change, and taking steps to protect their data, teams, and keep their businesses running. We are experiencing this change ourselves and have transitioned into work-from-home mode.
We have enabled our partner teams with the tools, so as to be available for our clients at all times, in the case of any breach or risk. As a best practice partner should ensure seamless defence strategies for all the clients and help security teams to adapt to the rapid changes and ensure availability of 24×7 round the clock support and protect organisations during the crisis.
We have also planned a couple of free cyber training and awareness courses for the partners as well as customers. With the help of these free training modules, organisations can be rest assured that their teams are not only cyber safe but also cyber aware and the entire team across the organisation is at a minimum cyber qualification. This will help in creating a minimum baseline of cyber proficiency throughout the organisation.