In a news article about Brighton Park Capital’s $125 million investment in OPSWAT, Benny Czarny, CEO of the cybersecurity company said he plans to use the proceeds to hire more channel marketing specialists and invest in partner program components such as market development funds (MDF) to help partners generate new business more quickly. He also commented that the company will explore acquisition targets in the critical infrastructure protection space that can be integrated with the company’s platform and that OPSWAT would expand the he number of file formats its solution supports.
Alessandro Porro, OSWAT’s VP, Global Channel, took some time to tell us more about the company’s plans to enhance its partner program.
CMR – Congratulations on the investment from Brighton Park Capital. I’m curious, did the investment firm understand that you planned to use some of the funds to boost your channel marketing program? And if so, what does that say about the importance of investing in a robust channel marketing program?
Alessandro Porro — Brighton Park Capital is a growth-minded private equity firm that saw an incredible opportunity within OPSWAT and the Critical Infrastructure Protection market. In addition to channel-related activities, the investment will also help us invest in our people, R&D, technology, training and future acquisitions.
Our customers and channel partners continue to be a priority, especially following the news of the investment. This investment means that we will have more resources, support and robust marketing to cover more critical infrastructure sectors across additional points and help offer more protection in the future to lessen zero-day attacks.
CMR — OPSWAT clearly understands the value that an effective channel marketing program can generate. Does the investment you’re planning to make reflect a need that partners are communicating? Is there a sense that partners themselves are placing more value on the marketing support vendors provide?
Alessandro Porro — The channel was a strategic pillar for OPSWAT in 2020 and continues to be one in 2021. Until mid-2020, OPSWAT had a portion of its business with and via channel partners across the globe.
The vision from 2020 onward has been to professionalize the partner program and scale the business through it. As you can imagine, this encompasses several elements: channel infrastructure, channel resources, channel marketing, channel recruitment, enablement, ramp-up, and ongoing management. All of these facets (and others) had been carefully examined and all have been proactively enhanced – many of them in a significant way. Channel marketing is one of these important aspects. The enhanced approach is not only geared to our existing legacy partners but also to the new partners joining our program today.
CMR — Your CEO said he hopes to run joint webinars and marketing programs with his channel partners and begin hosting in-person roundtables with solution providers once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Prior to any recent investments, what sort of channel marketing support were you providing to partners?
Alessandro Porro — Prior to mid-2020, the best way to describe OPSWAT’s channel resources and approach may be as “entry-level.” Yes, there was infrastructure, a program, great channel partners – but the entire approach required significant enhancements in order to scale. We needed to take this to another level – from that realization it led to a larger investment and focus into the channel partner program which continues today.
CMR — In addition to hiring more channel marketing specialists, what investments is the company planning in terms of channel marketing technology, or portal development?
Alessandro Porro — One of the fundamental enhancements to our channel program has been the launch of a new, world-class partner portal. Its intention and enhanced features have been developed to truly be a partner engagement platform that empowers partners to reach a new level of expertise covering the entire portfolio of solutions – whether it be technical, commercial, positioning, competitive, or otherwise. Partners can manage their business almost entirely within the portal, and there is a constant conduit of interaction and engagement they can leverage in order to grow their business with OPSWAT.
CMR – Czarny also talked about MDF. Has the company determined how it might allocate MDF? Are there any specific marketing activities that the company will prioritize?
Alessandro Porro — We believe that MDF is a fundamental part of truly “partnering” with the channel. Indeed, our approach to MDF is very specific: it is proposal-based, needs to be part of a broader sales/business plan, and the requests need to be within the context of the annual objectives we have mutually agreed that the channel partner will have. The approach is very well-received by our channel partners and continues to be very successful.
CMR — OPSWAT’s current partner ecosystem is fairly limited. Are there plans to grow the number of partners you are working with? As you recruit them, will you prioritize partners that have demonstrated their ability to participate in your channel marketing initiatives?
Alessandro Porro — The OPSWAT Channel Partner Program is designed for VARs, MSPs, systems integrators, and other security resellers who are looking to expand their offerings to help companies protect their critical infrastructure. The program is flexible and offers options to meet the needs of a wide range of businesses. We support partnerships across a wide range of industries, around the world.
Today, we have more than 110 certified channel partners that cover more than 80 countries which have led to impressive growth over the last 12 months. There are several profile criteria when we engage in partner recruitment – one of these is their ability to participate in our channel marketing initiatives.
CMR – The company plans to track the number of channel partners certified through the OPSWAT Academy. Are there plans to incentivize participation in training? Will incentives be used to encourage participation in marketing activity?
Alessandro Porro — Completing critical infrastructure cybersecurity training within OPSWAT Academy has become a requirement to enter the OPSWAT Partner Program since mid-2020. The OPSWAT Academy is one of the premier cornerstones of enablement for a partner and new content and courses are launched each month.
The profile of a partner that is most successful selling our solutions is a value-added partner and, thus, they will see great benefit in the certification, as it aligns with their business model. The incentives for our partners that complete the OPSWAT Academy and actively participate in marketing activity are on the one hand, that OPSWAT will always be very supportive of any related need, and, on the other hand, as partners increase their revenue attainments by executing these actions, their overall relationship benefits increase significantly.