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Seek outcomes over technology

07 Jan 2013

Forget the technology. Resellers need to think first about the outcome required by customers, Trend Micro’s Peter Benson tells Heather Wright.

Benson says Trend Micro has some ‘awesome’ technology. As the company’s senior security architect it’s to be expected he would say that.

But in this case, that’s not the point he’s trying to make. Because Benson says no matter how great the technology, it’s not of real benefit unless it can provide the outcomes the customer needs and wants.

“Most vendors are guilty of selling products, as opposed to outcomes,” he says.

“Technology in itself is great, but it has to have a reason, a purpose, some kind of outcome for the user.

“We have awesome technology and product launches and approaches to drive awareness, but at the end of the day the customer has to get the security outcomes they want – and that is appropriate for them – whether that’s through bleeding edge technology, existing technology or some that we are still creating.”

Benson says Trend Micro is taking an outcome oriented approach and is working to ‘really understand the customer and come up with solutions to meet their needs as opposed to just a standard product’.

The company worked with half a dozen customer panels to develop its Deep Discovery advanced persistent threats management offering, due to launch in a couple of months.

Evolving models

“We’re evolving the way we do business. We’re looking to the channel more as sales champions, as opposed to just resellers,” Benson says.

He says given Trend Micro’s wide range of products, it’s not necessarily realistic for resellers to sell the full range.

“We’re looking for resellers and partners to be specialists in certain areas, such as cloud or consumerisation.

We’re looking for thought-leadership in those places. Just because the technology is there doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for a business.”

And he says it’s not just about the sale of the product.

“There’s support, the product life cycle... It’s about people, processes and technology, not just technology anymore.”

He says in cases such as cloud, the technology is available to deal with concerns such as data sovereignty and jurisdiction, however social and regulatory acceptance tends to lag.

“New Zealand has been really fast at taking on virtualisation, but cloud adoption has been somewhat slower,” he says.

Benson attributes that in part to the Kiwi DIY attitude fitting well with virtualisation. “But when it comes to releasing control, that’s an issue for Kiwis.

There’s a sense that these big businesses, big service providers, are dictating too much. There’s a lot of maturity that needs to come in terms of what they provide, and people need to be more empowered to incorporate more in terms of security or to require more of the service provider in providing security.”

Consultation focus

Benson says education remains a key part of the channel’s role in New Zealand.

While users are aware they need ‘anti-virus protection’, he says they don’t necessarily understand exactly what that means.

“There are so many different vectors of attack now and there is a lot more scope to provide the appropriate protection for customers.

“Traditional anti-virus is increasing irrelevant in that we are now talking web-based drive-by attacks, Android attacks and so on.”

Resellers who are up with the play and can take a thought-leadership role while being aware of the available technologies and how they apply to business outcomes, stand to gain, Benson says.

“Don’t look at the product. Look at the outcomes for the customer, the lifecycle, what they want to achieve; and then use the technologies to provide those outcomes.”

He says the changing market will see some resellers ‘moving into additional areas to provide those outcomes’ – with those areas being increasingly consulting positions.

“I think there will be a need for much more consultative approaches to deliver against that [demand for business outcomes].

"There’s a real shortage of IT security guys in this country and customers don’t know what they don’t know. They know where they want to be, but they’re asking ‘how do I get there?’.”