As the biggest standalone security company in the world, we have started making investments in the SMB channel and make sure that we do a very good enablement of the partner ecosystem along with having localized marketing programs
As large number of SMB companies is knowledge intensive in nature, one of their key imperatives is data security. Undoubtedly, high-profile security attacks have raised security awareness and emphasize the need for more effective defense measures. While larger organizations take robust measures to safeguard themselves against attacks, in the case of smaller organizations, security processes are not sufficiently well defined.Enterprise Channels spoke to Bill Reilley, Senior Vice President – Small and Medium Business, McAfee to get an insight into the company’s SMB focus in the Indian market and key thrust areas. Excerpts
Your assessment of India vis-à-vis the global market from security point of view?
When we look at worldwide SMB market, we are really wanted to explore the opportunities in India. We, at McAfee, believe that SMB market in the country that we should really go after in the big way. Sensing the growth areas, we have already made investments in this business.
When we look at the growth rates around the world, we quickly get focused on places like India and specifically, when we look at types of companies operating out of the country, be it financial firms, law firms, professional services companies, and other organizations, we observed that by very nature of their business, they deal with confidential information. Hence, we see them as, McAfee’s potential customers from the security point of view.
As the biggest standalone security company in the world, we have also observed that the SMB market is growing very fast here in the country; we have also started making investments in the SMB channel and make sure that we do very good enablement of the partner ecosystem along with having localized marketing programs, as India has so many diversified regions. By making investments in the market, we are growing very fast. This high growth makes India a significant marketplace for McAfee.
Since you have recently came on board, what will be your key thrust areas for the Indian market?
Our first and foremost focus would be towards the channel ecosystem in the country. We always strive to make investment in the channel so that they give best of their services and solutions to the customers. Secondly, when we look at the SMB companies in India, we realize that they are by and large tech savvy in comparison to the companies based out of Western Europe, Australia or for that even the US. Still, they want us to be very simple and provide them the security products that keep them safe from the modern day threat vectors.
Henceforth, every step that we take in the Indian market will be about making sure that we do our part to keep our customers’ business safe so that they can fearlessly indulge into their day-to-day operations. One of the key reasons that I joined McAfee was that there is an immense opportunity for us to grow in the markets like India where we can duly fulfill our responsibility of protecting them from any kind of malicious intent.
As SMBs really rely on your security solutions, what makes you stand out in terms of securing their environment vis-à-vis the competition?
One of the biggest differentiators for us is that we are the largest standalone security company in the world that live in and breathe security. This kind of focus is really important in the face of modern and emerging threats. The second factor, specifically targeted towards SMB segment, is that we make very large investments towards research and development and global threat intelligence so that we can understand what’s all happening in the security domain. We look at 64 billion queries per day to better understand what’s out there in terms of threats.
All these actions require high capital investments but still we try to bring those in the SMB environment in affordable and predictable way. Small organizations would never be able to afford this kind of investments and this is where we come into the picture and bring scale to these businesses. The interesting thing to note here is that those cyber criminals, who have been traditionally going after big companies, are now increasingly are finding that defenses are lower in smaller firms and they can monetize either credit card or customer information from those companies. Hence, those small companies are becoming targets of the organized cyber criminals. This is where we bring value to SMB market by protecting them from such cyber criminals. Besides, we take a holistic approach wherein we have a whole series of products that can protect customers from any type of emerging threats.
India being a price-sensitive market, how competitively are your products priced?
From the Indian market perspective, pricing is certainly one of the key determinants of buying any product and this is particularly true for the SMB segment. But more than pricing, what’s important for us is to give them flexibility to consume the technology in different ways. For example, we offer them SaaS model that again gives them flexibility to pay-per-use. We believe that it’s just not the price but also this kind of flexibility that will make them hooked to our offerings.
Additionally, we also give them a support model which is helpful in the other way. The big differentiator for us is that if you any product of McAfee, it can be managed from one single management platform and we call it e-Policy Orchestrator (EPO).
How much of your product innovation is influenced by concepts like cloud and mobility?
If you look at overall R&D investments, you will see that they are not targeted at a specific device or model. In fact, they are targeted at scenarios that we see customers deploying. A lot of customers want to deploy on-premise products and we are making a lot of R&D
investments towards this direction. We have a number of SaaS and On-Premise products that are specifically targeted at the small and medium businesses. For example, we have a product called Total Protection where we bring together end point, email, and web. As a business, you want to be protected and look at McAfee to take care of your security piece.
Mobility is another major trend and there are billions of people using mobile phones today. We also have products targeted towards this segment and we will continue to make investments in this domain as well.
We are definitely seeing that SaaS, on-premise, or mobility business is increasing a lot but we don’t want to rush with our offerings. But instead, we want to work with our partners and convey the message through them that there is a range of products and solutions catering to each of the requirements and let partners decide what do their customers require and we are investing very significantly across all these platforms.
What are the key growth verticals for McAfee in the India market?
Clearly, professional services sector is a huge market for us. Software development companies and law firms are other focus verticals for us. We take a horizontal approach wherein the base line security requirement is common for all. We still have a lot of work left to do across the SMB market landscape.
We have a big SMB customer base in the country with about 6,000 customers on board currently. Our focus in India is also to increase the geographical coverage, wherein we want to increase our penetration in regional cities and expand in tier II and III cities where security investments are going up. Here, we want to further focus on partner ecosystem and their enablement so that it helps in our endeavor of maximizing reach in the country.
What’s your current channel ecosystem in the country taking care of SMB space?
Currently, we have around 1,200 partners on board with us who are catering to the requirements of the ever-growing SMB segment in the country. Partners in combination with our security products are certainly a key to our growth in India – both from the perspective of expansion of footprint as well as growth in market share. If you look at the partner programs that we have in place today, they really help them to scale. Partners certainly help us in carrying our growth aspirations forward.
At the same time, making channel engagement simpler is very important to us. When a partner shows interest in McAfee, we treat that as an opportunity to roll red carpet for that partner and make sure that we capture it successfully. And then we do everything we can to give them a high touch and value experience. Secondly, partners need one key thing from us i.e. engage with them at technical level to show the value in our offerings. The kind of technical enablement programs that we run shows that it is easier for them to engage with us. If we invest in these areas, then things will definitely fall in place for us.