Anirban (Oni) Chakravartti brings extensive business management, cyber security and threat intelligence expertise and experience working in the public and private sectors. Chakravartti is the Global Vice President of Channel Sales at Forcepoint.
Forcepoint is a channel-based organisation, more than 95 per cent – 98 per cent of business comes through the channel, and last year, they revamped the entire channel initiative. Forcepoint launched a new Forcepoint Global Partner Program, which takes care of the platinum, the gold and the silver level partners.
“We aim to achieve three organizational priorities, we call it 3Ps — First one is to make sure we are predictable, and our partners know exactly what they can expect from us. The second is to protect our partners, to make sure their investments are protected working with us. And the third is to make sure our partners are profitable,” Chakravartti explains.
The Forcepoint Global Partner Program brings all partners on one platform. The channel is basically divided between the distribution channel and the reseller network, which forms their delivery mechanism. The majority of the business is driven through the distribution channel as far as fulfilment is concerned. Then, they have the reseller partners, who drive one part of the business, and focus on the mid-market business.
Further, they have the global system integrators (GSIs), consultants and system integrators (SIs), responsible for driving the high-end market, enterprise business.
“We have now added the GSI Platinum Program, which offers an elevated level of accreditation for qualifying global systems integrator firms, including prioritised opportunities, a bespoke training program and an integrated suite of behavior-centric security products. And then we also have an MSSP program which is driving the MSSPs, and we have seen a substantial growth in the MSSP business. Our focused channel strategy has worked really well, where we are narrowing our focus and working with partners who want to work with us,” he says.
Forcepoint has grown their MSSP business year-on-year by 280 per cent. It is investing with the partners in multiple avenues like joint marketing, training and enablement, and ensuring headcounts to support the partners.
Staying unique in the market
“We create an edge working with our partners where there is predictability. We protect the partners through deal registration making sure if they are investing with us, we protect their interest. We ensure that they are profitable while doing business with us. We ensure every engagement, when they work with us, is profitable from end to end perspective,” mentions Chakravartti.
According to Chakravartti there is a change in the market momentum for Forcepoint. He is seeing a huge influx of partners who want to work with the company and their overall pipeline has drastically grown over a period of time, resulting in an increase in their partner contribution success factor. Forcepoint held their Sales Kick Off meet in January earlier this year, which saw participation from 80 partners globally.
Addressing the India market
For the India market, Forcepoint is investing in resources to drive more engagement. They are hiring multiple people in India to ensure that the east, the west and the north markets have dedicated resources supporting the channel. The company is aiming to work closely with the distributors and enable them to deliver stronger engagement going forward. Forcepoint has made investment on a self-serving partner portal, where the channel partners can register the deals, ask for marketing development funds (MDF), submit claims, track service tickets, and get regular training for sales and technical staff. The objective is to drive a seamless and frictionless channel model, where the channel is the part of their ecosystem.
Approximately 20,000 partners globally have logged into this particular portal within just four months of the launch.
“There is a lot of momentum around information security. Security has become a big issue over a period of time. We are creating a platform where the partners can deliver in tier-II, III cities. Many small companies are coming up and they want their infrastructure to be secured as well. We are also working with the Telco partners in India, ensuring the last mile gets covered,” Chakravartti adds.
As a strategy, Forcepoint is working with the SIs and the GSIs in India. The mid-market is catered by resellers, there they are placing some resources to conduct training programs. And the distribution which is responsible for delivering those products, the company is ensuring that they are enabled to execute faster in a frictionless model.
He says, “India is a key market for Forcepoint, so we want to make sure that we are delivering those specific requirements. We are doing quite a lot of customer success. Our journey is where we are inviting our customers to discuss their concerns and their pain points so that we can hear from the Indian market, and we are getting extremely positive feedback from the customers as well as from the channel perspective.
Obviously, our direct touch is with the larger tier I and tier II cities. The tier III cities are managed by our distributor partners, where they are investing and we are training the distributors to go and train the smaller cities partners.”
GSI Platinum Program partnership with Wipro
Chakravartti further describes their GSI Platinum Program partnership with Wipro, “In India, Wipro is one of the largest along with other partners. The GSI program is a very selective program, which enables the partners to deliver a product globally. We have started winning some large business with Wipro globally. We have trained Wipro and the entire Wipro technical organisation. We have also signed a contract with Wipro being a professional service provider for us globally. They have a massive footprint and we want to make sure we collaborate with Wipro in all the possible ways. Wipro has an enormous amount of technology know-how, along with a solid bench of people, who understand our technology very well.”
There is a strong alignment not just at the management level, but also at the field level, making it successful to work.
Infusing AI into Forcepoint’s products
Forcepoint is running data, network and user platforms using an intelligent technology based on human behavior, called human-centric security. The behavioral analytics focuses on understanding the behavior of users as they interact with critical data and intellectual property across organizations’ global IT systems. The artificial intelligence and machine learning powered model monitors the anomalies in the user behavior and enforcement policies are implemented automatically.
Forcepoint is evolving their partner program. They are planning a revised rebate program, which is going to enable the partners to be more successful with lasting profitability. The company is also launching an enhanced MSSP program in the second quarter. And re-ramping the Accredited Services Partner (ASP) program – “We launched the Forcepoint Dynamic Edge Protection (DEP) platform, in February 2019. DEP is a cloud-based converged security platform, which enables the users to configure the firewall, SD-WAN, Next Gen Firewall and Proxy – all together as an integrated network security solution based out of the cloud,” he explains.
Globally, Forcepoint has a strong footprint in the banking and financial sector. In India, after the BFSI industry, healthcare is the second most critical business. Chakravartti adds, “Again, we are also excited about the manufacturing industry, as we have technologies enabling the manufacturing companies. The fourth exciting industry is retail and there are quite a lot of transactions happening in retail.”
Security is the key pillar for the banking and financial sector, and so is the healthcare sector where the intellectual property, customer information, patient information or drug information, etc. has to be protected. “In these vertical markets, security becomes a core component and we are extremely excited about the growth which we are seeing in India,” he asserts.
Chakravartti also sees a massive growth potential in the IT/ITES sector.
Forcepoint has hired a new channel leader for Asia Pacific, Talib Yousry, who has 20 years of experience. He will be leading the entire Asia Pacific channel go-to-market strategy. He is accountable to ensure consistency of the program and drive the growth through the channel.
“He will be engaging at the country level quite extensively, working closely with all the customers and partners in the region,” says Chakravartti.
Talib Yousry comments on his appointment, “The strategy is to bulk up our channel engagement, to make life easier for our partners to do more business and sell more solutions to our mutual customers. The objective is really to make a supercharged channel for Forcepoint.”