This week we sat down with Joe Santamorena, VP of sales for the Americas at Bay Dynamics. As Santamorena puts it, he’s been very fortunate in his career to build teams and go-to-market strategies where the channel has been what he calls a ‘force multiplier.’ “When you want to grab market share,” he says, “there's no better way to do it than by setting your strategy to build out your partner network.”
TVG: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your time in the channel?
Santamorena: Unfortunately, I've been around the industry for 35 years, so I've seen a lot happen over time. I think the biggest shift that I've seen over the last several years in the channel is it's shifting from reselling products skews to subscription services in the cloud.
The cloud is a major disruptor to any business. No vendor or partners have been able to slow this direction down. The channel community has had to make the same shifts as the manufacturers had to make. That's number one. I think the other big change that I've seen is the increase in the customer buying influences the partners now play in the sale cycle. They are trusted advisors and they play a huge influence in that customer.
I think the last place is the sheer number of players in the marketplace versus years ago. If you look back a few years ago, especially in cyberspace, there were two or three firewall companies, and today there's more than 20. Our partners, they don't have the staff to evaluate all these choices. There are so many players in the market. It's definitely challenging to keep up with that, and keep up with that degree of solutions for our channel partners. I'm sure it's a daunting task for them.
TVG: Are the days gone when you could be an effective channel partner without a solid understanding of cybersecurity?
Listen to Santamorena’s answer below
TVG: What are the most pressing areas of focus in terms of cybersecurity for the new administration?
Santamorena: Number one centers on personal information. Aligning to individuals right to protect their data. For us, all of our data is used throughout the free world, whether it's a retailer, whether it's our banking, and it's passed across an open network of the internet. I think data privacy from an individual perspective is number one for me.
I think the government is going to be challenged with other threats that we traditionally did not see. The threats to our power grids. There are things happening in the world of cyber that are almost to the point where it's, I wouldn't call it World War IV, or World War III, excuse me, but where governments are now leveraging cyber as a method of warfare. At what point does the government declare that it's an act of war where a cyber threat has unfolded. To me, I think that that's kind of going to be an issue that is going to have to be discussed amongst the government to day.
We've seen certain powerful officials already do that. From some international cyber events have occurred, and threatened other countries for that. That's a touchy subject, right. Is it really the government doing it? Is it rogue hackers within those nations attacking different countries. I think that that's something that's really going to be discussed across the government going forward. It's complicated issue quite honestly. It's not as cut and dry.
TVG: What about the channel gets you most excited?
Listen to Santamorena’s answer below
TVG: Let’s flip that question on its head. What gets you most frustrated about the channel?
Santamorena: I mentioned earlier 1300 players in this market, so partners are bombarded with vendors like ourselves. What's frustrating is trying to get their mindshare. I'd say that's probably one of the biggest challenges that we have today. As a startup it's different. The challenges for a us are much different. You're creating a market, you're generating demand...If I took a large competitor in firewall market, I'm sure our partners know exactly how to go to market with that. For us, we're trying to create a market right now and create the demand. Let's be realistic to our channel partners. We're just learning how to do that. We're going to have to train and enable them to understand how to do that as successful as we are.
At the end of the day, I have to try and help our resellers and partners understand how to go out and tell the story around value and risk and how to position it effectively to a very senior executive across the company. ‘Trusted advisor’ channel partners have those relationships. Some of the ones who have sold point solutions may have sold down the stack a little bit. For me, it's trying to find the right partner that can deliver a very elevated message and solution at a CISO level. Again, I think we have a lot of capable partners out there that can do that, but you have to find the right ones that have build a business that is a trust advisor type of business.