Cloud Security, Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

How to Help Your Customers Make the Shift from Products to “Anything as a Service”

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While worldwide IT spending continues to grow, where and what that money is being spent on is shifting. Device/product spending is down, and it’s not expected to climb back up anytime soon. In fact, Gartner forecasts a drop in devices spending of 8.6% this year. What we’re seeing is a move toward less product spending and more spending on SaaS and cloud investments.

For channel partners, this indicates that their customers are increasingly favoring services over products. Partners must ensure they are meeting their customers’ demands in this way. The good news is that today it’s easier than ever for partners to broaden their service-level capabilities to ensure they’re delivering the security solutions that today’s organizations need the most.

Shifting Away From Products

Cloud and SaaS spending are on the upswing, with global spending on public cloud services forecast to grow 21.7% this year, rising to almost $600 billion, an increase of over $1 billion from last year. As Gartner analysis found, “As CIOs continue to lose the competition for IT talent, they are shifting spending to technologies that enable automation and efficiency to drive growth at scale with fewer employees.”

In fact, the ongoing talent shortage in IT and security is one of the major factors for this increased demand in services. For channel partners, a major opportunity here is finding ways to take the solution from their enterprise partners and then wrapping their services around it; that’s a win-win. It establishes a “sticky” relationship with their customers, who will be able to breathe a little easier knowing that their security bases will be covered even if they don’t have a full slate of security professionals on staff.

Aligning Offerings With Demands

Ensuring that your offerings are really matching what your customers are looking for starts with listening. It’s one thing to follow trends and anticipate the market; it’s another to hear what your customers need. It’s all about being able to understand the customer’s environment and where they are trying to go. What are their pain points? How do you solve for that? Listening to the customer leads to the right solutions and services that drive customer satisfaction.

Time to market is another important component. When your customer buys that solution and makes that investment, how long is it going to take them to get that particular solution in their environment? Partners who are technically enabled and very strong on the services side can decrease time to value and make sure that the solution is not sitting on the shelf.

Reducing Solution Sprawl

In addition to the shift from products to services, another aspect we’re seeing changing is that more organizations are looking to reduce security solution sprawl. They’re looking to consolidate their use of point products and shift to fewer, but more effective, strategic solutions. A recent survey found that 99% participants believe platforms or integrated solutions are required to thwart ransomware attacks.

For partners, this means focusing on being able to offer a complete solution and service set. Partners have to think carefully about what solutions you're putting into your customer's environment to make sure that they actually do work together and that they optimize the customer’s experience.

For far too long, vendors have made claims that their product integrates with X, Y and Z, but when the customer implements the product, it doesn't integrate. Customers need to make sure that the solutions that you introduce into their environment do work together. This is an opportunity for managed services and managed security services partners because they can show they’ve vetted the solutions, they know they integrate well, and they can help their customers.

Listen and Serve

Product spending is down for many end-user organizations, but they’re doubling down on SaaS and cloud investments. There is a real opportunity for partners here to ensure they’re truly bringing value to their customers. Look at the services you offer and see how they can be applied to meet this new focus. Take time to market and solution sprawl reduction into account as important factors, too.

Those channel organizations that will be most successful are those who can deliver on the “anything as a service” model. This involves not only understanding the market in general but your customer’s needs specifically. Especially when it comes to something as critical as cybersecurity, your customers want to know that you've heard them, understand their needs and are in it for the long haul. Make it clear that your relationship matters, that their business matters to you, and that you're not just here to make a quick sale and move on. Rather, you're here to help protect them.

Author Ken McCray is vice president of Channel Sales, US, Fortinet. Read more Fortinet blogs and news here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.