As more and more companies look to progress their Digital Transformation strategies, the channel has an important role to play in guiding them through the process. As Vice President of Worldwide Channels for Centrify, John Andrews discusses the responsibilities within his new role, his management philosophy and Centrify’s relationship with channel partners.
What does your new position as Vice President of Worldwide Channels entail?
Primarily, the most important component of a senior channel role is to achieve a sustainable and increasing revenue stream from a group of core, self-sufficient partners and make those companies both valuable and profitable to their customer base. This requires a great deal of logistics, planning and strategy. At Centrify for example, we currently have several ongoing projects which I have kicked off under the banner ‘Simply Centrify’ to make us easier to do business with. From personal experience, the thing partners fear the most is that you’ll be too complicated to work with, so in January we’ll be rolling out a new partner portal with improved interconnectivity and communication lines with our partner network. We’ll also be revising a fairly dated partner programme focusing on competency-based rewards, online and self-paced learning paths for everything from sales, pre-sales and professional services and increased focus on targeted market spend with our channel. So, it’s a fairly expansive role but ideally to be successful in the next 24 months we should be able to look at the teams’ achievements and see a well-prepared, fully enabled and productive channel that really adds value to their customer base with high level security discussion.
What was your previous role and what did it involve?
Previously running EMEA channels and mid-market sales was very much a scaled-down version of my new role. I can now tackle some of the programmatic changes that are required to enhance the Centrify channel go-to market strategy.
Can you explain how Centrify works with channel partners?
In our partner programme revisions planned for January, we’ll look to continue the engagement with a small but focused group of partners as well as develop our distribution strategy to achieve maximum coverage and support for the entire channel ecosystem.
What is your management philosophy?
Trust and communication. I have a really great team of people in our channel group and alongside that I also have some excellent people in supporting departments. I believe the key to having staff go the extra mile for one another is creating an environment where communication is encouraged and healthy. Open debate and discussion are prevalent and everyone is empowered to make decisions to run their sector or region.
Do you work differently with channel partners in the Middle East compared to Africa?
The way partners are handled can be at risk of spiralling out of control if we start managing the foundations of how we engage differently based on regions, or other factors. The key here is that the partner programme is the ruling guideline. Of course, there are cultural considerations to think about and our local presence in many markets allows us to acknowledge these and behave in a recognisable and respectable way towards all our partners. We do not have different standards or requirements – the programme guidelines apply to all which provides a fair, well-constructed equal playing field for all.
How do your partners deliver Centrify solutions to end-users?
We recently launched some exciting professional services training in our Centrify university which actually means that for the first time, it’s not a requirement for our channel to buy services from Centrify in order to deliver our solutions. The benefits here are abundant but in short, it gives that partner even more value in the customer’s eye, allows them to build a revenue stream from their own in-house services and of course, allows the customer to procure these services at local rates in local currency which is a massive ask from the majority of our end-user base.
How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?
We shall be building on enablement and empowerment in 2019 as a priority. We want our channel to be the most knowledgeable player in the privilege management space and more than that, we want them to take that conversation to a higher level around our Zero Trust Privilege Security, which we also offer training on. This deepens the customer conversation to look at overall maturity models of their security posture and allows for a really engaging, beneficial conversation for the end-user. It’s often referred to as the ‘value exchange’ – when a potential customer has given you 30 minutes of their time to meet and have a discussion – they offer their time as the value. It’s important to ensure that you’re bringing something of equal or higher value to the table in the exchange and that’s where we want our partners to stand out.
What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?
I’m a keen believer in trying new things and working to keep our channel ahead of the market curve. One aspect we have been working on which was driven by market trends over the past 24 months is a solid and fully functional MSP (Managed Services Provider) offering. With the combination of vendor consolidation and outsourcing, many customers are looking to put their infrastructure – and now security – in the cloud. It presents an opportunity to reduce costs, complexity and makes for a very strong OPEX versus CAPEX conversation. Centrify has always been very strong in our cloud architecture and it has therefore been at the forefront of this evolution, partnering with the likes of AWS to deliver security around the infrastructure component.
Which regions do you see offering the most opportunities for Centrify?
The Middle East market continues to perform strongly for us and we have yet to see a mass drive towards cloud adoption. I remember attending the first Middle East Cloud Summit in Abu Dhabi 10 years ago where it was said that cloud would take at least five years to become a natural option in that market. We are starting to see that more and more and is especially relevant to Centrify when we are focused on securing your access and privilege to those apps and content which you’ve already placed there, rather than focusing on moving data to the cloud.
Our other markets also continue to grow. The UK, Nordics, Germany and France have all seen Centrify investment either in resources or a focused channel rollout.