A family man with a love of rugby, Graeme Burt is the new channel director of Trend Micro Australia. While gruelling triathlons are his preferred method for keeping mind and body fit, he has also clocked up a fair share of channel miles during his career to date. He took time out to share some thoughts with Brian Corrigan.
How long have you been at Trend Micro and where had your professional life taken you prior to your appointment?
Graeme Burt (GB): I’ve been at Trend Micro for a whole month having spent five years with Oracle, where I rose to the position of channel sales director responsible for the sales, marketing and enablement of partners. I joined Oracle as a channel manager and already had some history with channels but it was a good learning curve.
I also spent about four years doing a mixture of direct and indirect sales for a software tools vendor called Intersolv and, before that, I gained my first involvement with the channel while working with EIS vendor, Pilot Software. We managed to transform the Pilot business from a completely direct model to a totally indirect one within 12 months.
What attracted you to joining the Trend Micro team?
GB: Trend Micro is a nice part of the industry to be in because it is a growth area. There are two or three big vendors in this space and Trend Micro is certainly one of them. It’s a 100 per cent channel business and it’s been refreshing to find a real channel focus within an organisation.
What are your immediate priorities in growing your business and that of your partners?
GB: We have a tremendously strong channel of very loyal partners providing value-added services around the products. The biggest challenge lies in getting out to the broader channel community and making sure they’re educated in the Trend Micro value proposition. It is about how the Trend Micro component works within their solutions. The Internet and the Web are still tools to be used but, when you’re training field engineers about what a Trend Micro solution looks like, face-to-face and belly-to-belly is still best. The team within Trend Micro is dedicated to finding the right partners and training them.
What areas of the Trend Micro business do you think have room for growth?
GB: Trend Micro has a very good small to medium business (SMB) product but has kept its light under a bushel to some degree. We already have about 450 resellers in that space — and making sure they are skilled in the products is an ongoing project — but I would like to see us get to 750 SMB resellers. It sounds like an awful lot of partners but its needed when a product is so broadly applicable in the market.
How does Trend Micro get its products to market at the top end of town?
GB: In the enterprise space we have a few select players sich as Content Security in Sydney and Hall Computers in Brisbane. We also partner with the major systems integrators like Dimension Data, Alphawest, Data#3 and Volante. We work with the security practices within these organisations.
Distribution reviews seem to be flavour of the month at the moment with many of the major vendors. Who are your distributors, which areas are they covering and are you happy with the way the system is working?
GB: Our current distribution partners are Alstom IT, which focuses on enterprise, Ingram Micro, which has an SMB focus, and ChannelWorx, which is a relatively new relationship for us across both product areas. I have been pleasantly surprised by the commitment they have all demonstrated to Trend Micro.
During your brief time in the job so far, have you highlighted any areas that you think need to be improved in terms of how Trend Micro works with its channel?
GB: We need to do more work with partners to articulate our value proposition into the marketplace because we haven’t done as good a job as we could have. From my perspective, the things that are always worth reinforcing are the channel basics. We need to be trusted by our partners and minimise disruption wherever possible.
Trend Micro has recently announced that it sees a quarter of its revenues coming from antivirus services within the next three years. Doesn’t a move into the services market mean you are in danger of competing with you own channel partners?
GB: The antivirus services to be offered to our customers represent a real opportunity for our partners to resell these services into the marketplace. There is always going to be overlap between the services we provide and those our partners offer but that’s OK as long as we are clear about what services we are taking to market and how we plan to do it.
The services we are looking at are around vulnerability assessment and, for example, judging whether a visitor’s notebook can safely be connected to your network. There is no reason why a reseller couldn’t do that but, because we have built it into our product, it isn’t something they would necessarily want or need to do. Clarity is incredibly important.