Demetrios Georgiou, Bitdefender’s regional director for Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ), opens up on what the cyber security firm has in store for the local region in the near future.
Bitdefender has been making some moves in the A/NZ region as of late, with the firm appointing Georgiou as a regional director for A/NZ back in July, adding Nextgen as an A/NZ distributor and just last year acquiring Australian distributor SMS eTech, marking the firm’s first official presence in Australia.
All of these moves, in particular the SMS eTech acquisition, are both part of the firm’s larger global and regional strategy, according to the regional director.
“Globally, Bitdefender looks to enter into regions by establishing what we call in-country partners and setting up that partner to be Bitdefender in-country. What that means is being country partner acts and executes just as though Bitdefender would in any other region around the world,” Georgiou said.
“They do that with the idea that as we transition and build our presence in-country that there is little to no impact to our existing partner base. So what that means is we don't look to acquire the in-country partner and then change margins, for example, or change systems or change the way we do business.
“It's all about taking the existing intel and IP, and expanding on that and building further resources into that, investing for the resources into that business to expand.”
Georgiou said the acquisition worked out well for the business, as it meant more people came on board that had existing relationships with partners and end users.
“One of the big benefits with Bitdefender now with its official presence is that we invest heavily in building the right facilities, and build the right marketing campaign that can then take us to the next level,” he said.
“It's a strategy that's done from a global perspective and one that will continue to do throughout Asia, you know, in the coming quarters and years.”
Georgiou’s recent appointment has also been a part of Bitdefender’s broader strategy, with the firm focusing on understanding the channel and building up staff headcount in its regional headquarters in Melbourne.
“The first three months have been about understanding our channel community, appointing Nextgen as our sole distributor here in both Australia and New Zealand, and we've put we're now putting a focus into our enterprise play,” he said.
“We have more than 15 staff now on board, just in Melbourne, and we've got a whole bunch of other roaming staff around Australia and New Zealand with a huge focus not only on sales, but on our pre-sales and post-sales and operations.
“We're looking to accelerate the growth of that via employees by more than 30 per cent next year so we have a huge focus on people now that we have the technology and the correct tools in place.”
Not only does Georgiou have plans to grow employee numbers, but to grow the number of Bitdefender’s partners, as well as leveraging the firm’s global relationships with other MSPs.
“It's a very simple process from us, we now have the right people, and we're very big on people in country; we now have the right processes in place and now it's about executing in countries,” he said.
To achieve the firm’s goals, Bitdefender globally employs what Georgiou refers to as a two pronged approach -- through its traditional reseller model and through managed security service providers (MSSPs).
“[The] first one is our traditional reseller model, where we go by our distributor in looking to acquire and displace other products; we're in the business of selling,” he said.
“We look to do that by our resellers into end users, there's no better way to leverage the IP and the relationships that are in place via our partners into those end users.”
Then, Georgiou continued, the firm’s MSSP solution is based on what the regional director referred to as a cloud model that’s extended to MSSP, performed via third party integrations.
“There's some global agreements that are pretty exciting and on the way which will be launched from a global level in the coming months through our 2020 strategy, so, we're not only focusing on those resources but focusing on those MSSPs, “ he said.
“It also gives our partners the ability to do both; you can resell and you can be an MSSP, which is super exciting, unlike many vendor programs others have in place.
“In a nutshell: we're really looking to focus on that and extending our services offering into that two pronged channel approach.”
This global approach is taken and adapted to the A/NZ market, or what Georgiou refers to as “putting the flavour around our Australia and New Zealand partners and, and interacting in the manner that we like to interact here in this neck of the woods.”
For the region, this “flavour” is a focus on threat detection, as Georgiou claimed that Australia and New Zealand are “usually the first region to be attacked from ransomware or from another threat.” Of the two countries, New Zealand is more likely to be attacked first, according to Georgiou; on a global scale, it’s typically the country to wake up and respond to threats first.
“As a result, what that means is that, in Australia/New Zealand, we have a very strong channel community and partner community who understand services, who understand that threat landscape,” he said.
“Bitdefender in Australia/New Zealand needs to execute very heavily within our channel community. Because it is those skill sets that we're looking to leverage, unlike other regions around the world where vendors are tasked with helping their customers build that skill set, we're very, very fortunate in Australia and New Zealand where that skill set already exists.
“It's about taking the tools and the product set to selective partners and helping them take that to their customer base.”
Another part of Bitdefender’s expansion plans is partner marketing support, which stems from research around what partners thought Bitdefender was and was not doing well from a marketing perspective.
“One of the one of the factors that came up was a channel marketing automation platform. A lot of our partners locally; I think it was more than 70 per cent of them were not actively utilising a marketing automation tool, they were looking for the vendor's support, and our support in helping them put together a marketing in a box type of tool set,” Georgiou said.
“As a result, HQ went out and scaled the market for tool sets that we could then implement within region and within other regions to help customers, build leads, track performance of those leads, improve our co-branding exercises within our partner base and look to help track and better implement market developer funds (MDF) processes for our partners.”
To capitalise on this desire for more marketing support in the region, Bitdefender’s partner marketing tool is able to provide content syndication campaigns, automate social media and flash specific product sets or solutions to customers.
The tool also allows for partners to have identity at the forefront, rather than Bitdefender’s identity -- a deliberate decision, according to Georgiou.
“It's always important to lead with a partner's messaging rather than ‘Bitdefender does XYZ,’ for example,” he said.
“It's all about investing in the partner base that's looking to invest with Bitdefender.
“We are looking to improve and better engage with our partner community, and we're doing that by implementing the right tool sets and the right programs at a local level.”
What lies ahead?
Looking to the future, Georgiou said Bitdefender’s major 2020 focus for the A/NZ region is to hire more people and to work on its partnership with Nextgen.
“We've identified both in the market that, from our perspective, we're looking for the distributor that would take our solution set to that mid market enterprise space,” he said.
“And likewise, for Nextgen, they were looking for that next generation visionary product set to bring into their portfolio.
“It was just the perfect marriage and perfect fit and a no-brainer for both companies where we look to build and execute on our 2020 strategy.”
Georgiou added that he’s “heard the message loud and clear” from partners over the last few years.
“We're looking to execute and do some exciting things for our partner base in 2020,” he said.
“It's all about simplifying things for our partners rather than the complexity that comes with vendor/partner relationships and distributor, trying to bring that into the mix.”