B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 4 years ago

12: The State of the Channel in North America w/ Bruce Johnson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Can one sector of a business drive change in an entire channel?

Though the IT channel is has been around for many years, it is changing rapidly to a integrated solution based model.  One of the most significant change agents is the urgent need to integrate information security and cybersecurity into all IT products and services.

Bruce Johnson heads up Global Channels at BlueVoyant, a next generation cybersecurity provider built on a threat intelligence platform. BlueVoyant has leaders from diverse backgrounds, from executives at Morgan Stanley to members of the NSA and FBI.

Bruce and his team at BlueVoyant have seen first hand the widespread impact that information security and cybersecurity concerns have had on sales channels.  If a company is in the technology space, they need to have measures in place to protect their own information as well as the information of their clients. BlueVoyant helps neutralize those threats.

Bruce has experience working all over the globe, so we sat down with him to learn more about the state of the sales channel in North America, the differences between the North American Market and the European Market, and where he sees rooms for improvement in these channels.

You were listening to be tob revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to be to be a reven new acceleration. My name is already Amoutier, and I'm here today with Bruce Johnson from blue voyant. Are You doing today? Press, wonderful rate. Thanks for having me. Good. So today, Bruce, we wanted to invite you to discuss about the state of the channel in North America, but that's a big topic, I would believe. But before we get started, it would be very, very useful if you could give a shot introduction to yourself, as well as blue voyant, to our listen us. Certainly right. So, blue boy is a next generation cybersecurity provider, and what makes us different is we were built for the industry by leaders who have seen this cyber security challenge from a different perspective, leaders from Morgan Stanley, from Thomson Reuters, even from the intelligence community at the NSA and FBI, Eighty two hundred unit and and GCHQ. And what really makes us different is we were built on a threat intelligence platform that really informs everything else that we do and it's an unrivaled in the world really, but it's it's a leading platform for threat intelligence that allows us to deliver value to our customers and really bring to the private sector and smaller organizations the level of cyber security defense that has only been enjoyed by the very largest organization. So Jim Rosenthal's our CEO and he, prior to starting blue voyant, was the CEO at Morgan Stanley with a three hundred and fifty million dollar cyber security budget, and his vision is to bring that type of cyber security defense to smaller organizations who can't go out and get those same size types of resources. So we've developed a company around threat intelligence, around man security services and around cyber forensics and incident response that really brings...

...that level of solution and cyber defense to organizations around the world. Well, I must admit that the degree of the fund those are the thinking heads that have been at the early stage or at the creation of Blue Voyians, plus the team now, so all the people that not only you'll see you, but also yourself person or the bad girl that you are bringing to the table is definitely an impressive setup. Thank you and we're excited about it. Good. Well, it seems that Luvillian says, the others say, is big backgrown and big back up from from lots of interesting people. So very, very interesting technology company. From your background, Bro said, an also from living and breathing the channel in North America for as long as you've done, and I think one of the reason the way we wanted to invite rees also because you leave both side of the channel. So working from the vendors, what it's working for the actual channel, itscent it would be very useful if you could share with us or if you could outline what's he's from your they'll spective jet your state of the channel in North America and also the direction in which you see it going. Yeah, love to. As you said, I'd have been on all sides of the channel work for companies like Samantec Ben on the vendor side, cynics, as a distributor. I've been in the reseller space and it's obviously evolved over those decades that I've been around. What I've seen really happened. It's really incredible see how one sector of the business, the cybersecurity space can really drive an entire channel because it's hard to be in the technology space anymore without offering some level of information security, cybersecurity practice or or a consideration into that space. So what we're seeing is that is driving vars to who might traditionally be in the storage space or infrastructure space or...

...any other space. Just like cloud has really kind of pulled partners into looking at things differently, cybersecurity is forcing people to look at their businesses differently and it's also been a natural connection, though, to another big movemental for the last couple of decades, which has been moving away from the resale of a product to a recurring revenue model as a business. So putting those two things together really has driven a lot of development in the channel. It's driven channel partners to try to build tighter relationships with their vendors in the offerings that they have, and it's also cause them to look deeper into the opportunity of partnering with their distributors, who have access to more technologies and can help them vet those technologies and then really put resources together to go build practices. Some in some cases, many cases, the distributors are actually augmenting a lot of what the the resellers or the service providers are are doing with their own resources. So it's been there's a lot of things moving along and I think the two biggest drivers are that that I see are the need to wrap security into all aspects of the offering and this again, this idea of recurring revenue model that it does what everybody's been seeking and now starting to see how they can deliver through cloud services and in manage services on that promise. Okay, so do you feel that there is really an apskating of the channel going on? So Chin, their thought now being any to beat more tnique, quote on more on the bowl from a product of what you position perspective, simply because the market is becoming a little bit more complex and more congested. I absolutely do. I think that you're saying you're driving to more specialization and and people are digging in and having to invest in I think one of the big invest in...

...those resources, and I think one of the big reasons for that is the lack of resources and talent in the general population to cover things like cyber security. There's a very large gap. I mean by some some studies it's a million on fielded security jobs, and so the bars and service providers are driving deeper and better, I guess, solutions and expertise to be able to go out and provide those those services to the client base where the clients are unable to fill those walls. Yeah, I also think, from from from my own perspective and my own experience in in also engaging with a channel, that I feel that there is a little bit more thought process from distributors, from resellers, to try to get solutions that will fit with its shows and almost coming to coming to market with their own bundles of solution that that will I guess she bought them to do two things. First one would probably be having a competitive advantage on the market, because we know that it's extremely competitive and extremely changing from your reseller to acquire a new market share or offer new for resellers to acquire new clients. So it's about differentiators, but it's also about keeping their clients. What we tend to see or what we tend to feel, I think it's more feeling and seeing it, to be honest with you, is re seller, distributor putting more thoughts in what they can offer to the market? To also keep their clients for longer. There is always almost that sort of quest going on, trying to identify new vendors or new solution or something that will food fit very well with an offering it is already existing. So I guess what I'm trying to explain yet that there is a there is a always that research for innovation, always that we are seeking something innovative that we can bring to the market so we can impress our clients. And I think from my perspective, this is a big shift when when we started,...

...and my career in the B tob software business is a little bit short on and yours, Bruce. So so my experiences is it's not as great as yours, but I feel that we kind of moving from a fulfillment role of the channel to a bit more of a specialized role. So, and it seems that what you just mentioned is is very much aligned with what I feel as well. Yes, I mean we're seeing the same fact. See the same thing. Instead, it's more difficult for service providers, value added resellers, anybody standing in that facing the customer and the customers asking for a solution. It's differs, more difficult for that partner to not pick sides and have done the research. So you're right on it. From what I've seen, the role of fulfillment and agnostic position to provide whatever the customer wants because of the vast number of options. Now we've got more technology and every category upsurdly. You know, it's making it. The customers are reading on those advisors, those trusted advisors. They're asking them to is now become a value in the value added reseller formula. One of those value ads is the decision support, the ability to put things together and help the customers side. You need to go this way as opposed to just being there with a line card of fifteen options in each category. Do you feel that there is again coming back to the side that you've been seeing bus site, of the of the channel being in the resellers, let's distribute to a your self and running the teams, as well as being at the Vendo on the vendor site. Do you think it's much challenging? No, for this tribute those because obviously we'll speaking about the scaling while speaking about being specialist, and I would have thought that this is coming with investment. You can just become a specialist by just sitting down and doing nothing. You need to obscale your team, you need to train them, you need to teach them, you need to have a...

...better on the standing of the market, exet et Cetera. So that's when things that's the investment. But on the other side, coming back to something that you mentioned early on, it's a recurring revenue. Is that soft Towa as a service type of business, almost moving to a manage service provider type of offering, which I would have thought would bring less margin for the channel itself. So I kind of say it does, from the conversation we are having right now, that there is a requirement to have scale, there is a requirement for larger investment, but that the other rends. There is always an issue of less revenue coming in because you can service. You can't have a server or sitting at your on your client side, you probably have less services that you can sell. So does that do you think that's slightly change the business model or the way to the channel is working? All those the upscaling versus on demand versus soft Toas a service, from your perspective, effect the business model or or the way the channel can your life? I think it does put a lot more pressure on the distributor specifically, because the distributor has a larger spread of resources, they're able to take on in specific areas and go make those investments and prepare enable and help those bars build businesses and augment those businesses right because it's hard for a for the alcoholma point of sale resell or the personality end endpoint with the customer to go and invest all the it put all the people in place on the bet, if you will, and yet and not also from a workload perspective. So with the the flow of business, it's sometimes better for the distributor to put those resources in place and then pull the resellers along with them, and that's actually become a value add to the reseller to team up with distributors who can help them even out that business and augment the services where necessary. It's also it's a very good example of where sock service is specifically. Are a point where a lot of resellers and a lot of service providers were out there saying, Hey, we'll...

...do manage services, will do will offer, you know, some infrastructure as a service, will do these things, and then they kind of evolved to hey, let's let's make that a security as a service. But they found that building a sock is very expensive. So they're looking to providers like blue voyant to say, okay, you've built your sock or your multiple socks and you've got those manned with all the people that you need and all the analysts. So what we can do now is go out and add a layer of service on top of that, put our expertise into a particular industry or market segment and then leverage those sock services of a blue voyant to ultimately build a profitable business where we haven't had to do the outlet of funds. Yeah, I coun't put you. Agree with you. I think it's a it's it's an interesting changing world for the CHARLITY sell bus distribute out of the one the other two chill channel. Another thing that's really interesting, and I guess I want to move the conversation to worlds is is your global experience. You've been walking a lot in North America, you've been working a lot in Europe, you've been working a lot in Apack. You've got you've got that very interesting global experience and my next question is really around the differences or if you see any differences of any different level of maturity between America's versus Europe versus a pack in term of channel in time of you could be at the engagement level or the way they walk, may be very interesting if you could comment from your perspective on the differences between regions. Well, I'll give you my perspective, but it's purely from the seat of a US based business going into new markets, and that's an important distinction because from that perspective it's trying to get places that we can't necessarily cat in touch with the same types of direct selling resources. So taking a business that is primarily us, as we are today, for example what well Voy it is is a global company, but most of...

...our resources are in the in the US. So our reach into Europe, for example, requires us to lean on those channels differently than we would in the United States. When I was at Semantech, we had a different play because we had an entire sales infrastructure in and mea regions and things like that. But so I'll tell you that, for example, from the large vendor perspective, we see the specifically in the Europe areas, the role of the distributor is very different. There's a much more of a value added position of place in the ecosystem. We've seen the same thing evolved in the United States where the broad line, if you will, distributors are taken on more of a value position and and that's happened over the last you might say ten years, but certainly the last five, where the traditional big, big broad line distributors are getting deeper into specifics and deep specific areas and certainly adding a lot more resource around the solution selling and things like that. So we're seeing a value added development in the United States that's been there in Europe for quite some time. When we look at going often to other regions, we see, you know, for example, an a pack cultural differences are one of the biggest advantages that the channel brings us to understand the culture and how to do business in those reasons, whether it's Japan or Australia, wherever. So cultural, cultural things are very important and but I would say in general, you know, it's a case where we have to build a complex strategy around how we're going to leverage the channels in each of those different regions. Absolutely, and I think you have confide here right and starting with the statement that you loocate from a US company coming into Europe. It's very valuable because we do it the other way. We sometimes look at European clients or an Israeli client, for example. Is a turn of historili started at a fantastic product and they want to scale in North America, and scaling in North America because of...

...the the territory is so vast, you need to you need to really have the granularity on the ground. If you're scaling up in the UK, if you're s getting up in front, if you're s getting up in even in Korea and Australia and things like that, at least you could find a local distributor or local partner. That Noda market very well. You can do a bit of due diligents find a few. But when it comes to North America and going the other ways, got his own challenges and I think this is some fiet. We would actually discussed more details than other podcast but I will definitely pick your brain up on the topic lateron. Another feel that I obviously the kind of my last question that I've got for you is the improvement. So you again you have been working for the channel. You are now in a vendor so you've got a vender perspective which is increasing revenue sellings. You want the channel probably to do more on the daily basis, Exetra, etc. But from your perspective, what's should be, or what could be the improvement that we need to see in the channel moving forward or in that think I see them moving from up. I'd say the biggest thing is we need to we need to see a willingness to build a tighter process and tighter engagement between vendor and partner. The willingness and a lot of times that that means an investment which requires both sides to choose fewer partners instead of trying to go out and do be all things to all people. yesifically, the channel partner, the value added Reseller, the solution provider. I really believe they need to pick fewer vendors and go deeper into understanding those vendors and actually be willing to take sides in particular technical technology, technology arguments right and who? Yeah, it's which direction to go, so that you can go deeper with the customer and provide more value together. So the willingness to invest in that tighter engagement understanding of each other's businesses, I think is critical and it's on both sides. The vendor has to pick fewer partners and try to actually invest in...

...the enablement in and go to market with more strategic partners. That requires an investment of time and resources and and delivery mechanisms and I think they also they also need to be willing to, as I said, stand up for where they want to take their business, a partner does, so that they can add value to the customer in their overall strategy for around technology, so they can. Yes, you need to add more and more value. I think those are the key things, but that's that's very useful. Thank you very much for your insight on that, Bruce. Last question I I've got for you is for the purpose of fologens and for the purpose of all least and now, if anyone wants to get in touch with you to discuss is all about Bluevoyan solution or just to have a chat with you to carry on the conversation, as we just said there on the channel, what is the best way to get old of Bruce Johnson? The best way to get hold of me is through Bruce Dott Johnson at blue boy atcom and okay, it's my email address and I'd love to love to chat with folks. What has been wonderful, Bruce. Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate or den say that you shod with us today. So again, thank you very much. Thank you, Ray, my pleasure. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening to be tob revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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