The Doyle Report: What Distinguishes A “Partner of the Year”
“Partner of the year.”
Now there’s a distinction that 10,000 companies would love to have—and one a good many view with suspicion.
“Aren’t all ‘partner-of-the-year’ competitions rigged?” “Don’t vendors just hand these awards out to their biggest or most-politically connected partners?”
I’ve wondered no less over the years—and with good reason. In my capacity, I’ve voted for partners of the year, been a witness to when others were chosen, and met more than a view who have shrugged in disbelief after they have been acknowledged.
But I’ve also been in awe of many worthy award winners.
Amid that backdrop, let me introduce you to Edgile, a technology consultancy that was honored in February 2017 as the 2016 "Partner of the Year" by SailPoint. If you’ve ever wondered what sets a “partner of the year” apart from other companies, consider this organization.
Edgile was founded in 2001 by former “Big Four” business consultants who provided security advice to both enterprise customers and upstart ecommerce companies. If you think back to the time, you’ll remember that the world was defined by perimeter security and prioritized “keeping the bad guys on the other side of a firewall.”
Edgile founder and CEO Don Elledge saw flaws in this thinking. Instead of prioritizing a perimeter, Elledge thought of security in terms of identity management, governance, risk and compliance. Rather than try to perfect network security, in other words, he thought in terms of applications security. While it wasn’t mainstream thinking at the time, Elledge nonetheless took a risk and launched Edgile in Austin, Texas, in the aftermath of the dot com crash of 2000. The name was supposed to conjure “agility across the network edge,” and elevate security from “a purely technology purchase activity to a strategic business enabler for the enterprise.”
In practical terms, the approach helps enterprise customers more quickly and securely establish remote sales offices, engage third-party business partners, better serve customers and more. For insights on what makes the company “partner-of-the-year-worthy,” I turned to Elledge for some insights. Here’s some of what he had to say.
Though Edgile competes in the technology market, the company doesn’t consider itself to be a traditional reseller or technology services provider. Instead, it views itself as security consultancy that is product independent and customer agnostic. While the distinction may seem modest, it nonetheless has helped Edgile secure a foothold among a sizable percentage of Fortune 500 enterprises.
That’s helped Edgile grow into an Inc. 5000 company and an Austin Business Journal “Fast 50” organization. Its headcount, meantime, has grown to more than 100, and it has begun expanding outside Texas to California and beyond.
Leveraging the governance and identity management platform that SailPoint provides, Edgile todays offers its customers the following:
- Cybersecurity strategy
- Governance, risk and compliance (GRC)
- Identity and access management (IAM)
- Cloud services and virtual enterprise
“[From the beginning,] we looked at the business needs of a company as much as we did the security needs of it,” says Elledge. “Even though companies throw up to 18 percent per year more at security, we focus on the choices customers make. We strive to really think through the issue and work with them to make the right choices.”
This includes helping customers rethink their business workflows, better understand their use of unstructured data and other practices that put their organizations at risk.
Since it has positioned itself as a trusted advisor to business, the company has been asked to provide all sorts of services. While some are loathe to say “no” to customers, Edgile doesn’t hesitate to do so. If something is outside the area of risk management, the company likely turn it down. It’s a security purist, Elledge says.
That said, Edgile is expanding beyond pure consulting and embracing shared risk services.
“We really are building the [prototype] 21st Century services firm that will be the security partner of the leading organizations in the world,” says Elledge.
To help reach its ambitions, Edgile has dug in deep with SailPoint, with whom it shares a common vision. It has also accepted a $35 million investment from a private equity firm, and stepped up its marking efforts. It’s hired a new Chief Marketing Officer and begun spreading its message through social media.
Though it’s posted just two blogs to date, my gut says you’ll be hearing more from Edgile in the days to come.
Partners of the year, after all, rarely remain silent. When they speak, they often have something noteworthy to say.