Selling security through the squeeze

Ever wished for a crystal ball, so you could find out what your customers really want before you go into the sales meeting? Well, I don’t claim to be a soothsayer, but I can give you an insight into the security issues that IT managers and directors are concerned about – and also into how they are planning to spend their security budgets.

Earlier this year, Check Point surveyed senior IT staff, IT managers and IT directors from a range of UK companies, in both public and private sectors.

We wanted to take the pulse of the UK security market, and find the issues that really mattered to those that specify and use security solutions.

This follows a similar survey in November 2007, and shows how attitudes to security have changed in the light of major incidents such as the HMRC and MoD data leaks.

Some of the findings were what we expected: others were more surprising. But in any case, they could help you target your sales efforts in the coming months.

So what are the security issues that matter right now? Respondents named their top three current security concerns as controlling remote access (48 per cent), closely followed by stopping external attacks at 46 per cent. Cutting the risk of data leaks and theft was also prominent (40 per cent).

This was in marked contrast to the November 2007 survey, when a majority of senior IT staff felt they were secure against data leaks.

So securing endpoints, stopping data leaks and encryption issues have moved quickly up the buying agenda – giving a real incremental sales opportunity, especially with your existing customers that may not have these solutions in place.

Even better when you can demonstrate that these solutions can all be supplied by one vendor, and managed easily under a single console.

Management and control were also named as key concerns: 56 per cent said that managing overall network and device security was an issue.

VARs can use this to their advantage by choosing to work with vendors that offer full, open interoperability between devices, unified management and scalability.

It’s also an opportunity to put forward UTM appliance solutions as they greatly simplify management.

In terms of security spending over the coming year, we asked respondents for their top three security priorities over the next calendar year. These closely mapped onto the security concerns expressed by IT staff: highest on the list was intrusion prevention (49 per cent). Anti-virus scored high, with 44 per cent naming it as a priority. 38 per cent plan to spend on VPN solutions (36 per cent), with data encryption (32 per cent) and endpoint security solutions (31 per cent) also on shopping lists.

Our research shows there are great opportunities for you to sell to new customers, and up-sell existing ones. Despite predictions of lean times ahead, the security sector is looking healthy for the channel, with end-users actively seeking solutions to their problems – and by choosing to partner with the right vendor, you’ll be ideally placed to capitalise.

Paul Comessotti is the Canadian country manager for Check Point Software Technologies Inc. of Calgary, Alta.

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