Blue Coat Execs Offer Advice on Emerging Markets
Reaching consensus on what exactly constitutes an “emerging” market is difficult. But however one chooses to define the category, it’s clear that regions with less developed economies and IT infrastructures present particular challenges for VARs. To get a better sense of this issue, and how to address it, I spoke recently with executives from security and WAN optimization company Blue Coat about their work in emerging markets. Here’s what they had to say.
The representatives with whom I spoke, Albert Kuo and Ray Jiménez, are vice presidents at Blue Coat. They are responsible, respectively, for Field Operations for the Asia Pacific region and Sales and Operations for Latin America.
These geographic areas are among the fastest-growing markets for Blue Coat, which already enjoys a major presence in both regions. In explaining that success, Kuo and Jiménez focused on a few key traits central to the company’s strategy for areas that include developing economies.
One major point that both vice presidents drove home was the importance of recognizing and addressing the fragmented nature of the regions for which they are responsible. Blue Coat’s Asia Pacific operations include not only emerging markets in countries including Thailand and mainland China, but also highly developed ones in such places as Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Countries in the Latin American market, meanwhile, speak a variety of languages and tend to adopt new technology at different rates.
As a result, according to Kuo and Jiménez, tailoring the marketing message to specific audiences is vital. A generic regional strategy alone doesn’t work.
Along similar lines, working closely with channel partners who can offer local expertise and connections is another key element of Blue Coat’s operations in emerging markets. As Jiménez said, “the channel play is very, very important. You don’t sustain a business in a region as diverse as this without a strong channel presence.”
The company is currently in the midst of revamping its partner program, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less committed to a strategy that places partner organizations at the front and center.
A third major consideration, especially for a company selling security products, is the way government-enforced compliance standards vary between different countries and regions. While policies requiring organizations to undertake reasonable measures to secure user information, such as HIPAA in the United States, are relatively common in North America and Europe, their applicability elsewhere varies.
As Kuo cogently pointed out, that doesn’t mean compliance mandates don’t exist in other regions. On the contrary: In some Asian countries, banking and other regulations can be stricter than those in the United States. But because compliance standards vary across borders, they represent another issue that VARs need to factor in when developing specific strategies for emerging markets.
The points above aren’t the whole story. Kuo and Jiménez had a lot more to say, and we hope to continue this coverage in future posts. But the items above were among those that the executives emphasized most strongly, and they provide great food for thought for VARs currently working in regions that include developing markets, or hoping to invest in those areas in the future.