Over 1,000 attendees enjoyed three days of unmissable insights from channel leaders, keynote speakers and innovative security vendors at our Imagine virtual partner event. Here are nine key takeaways to help you unlock potential in the highest growth technologies and drive recurring revenue in a cloud-first world.

Until now, the greatest vulnerability has been human error. Now the threat is from systems so big that humans no longer exercise the requisite oversight. Sticking to key principles of risk management will be what separates countries that thrive in the 21st century.

Misha Glenny, keynote speaker and expert in cybersecurity and organised crime

1. Security spend remains resilient

In his keynote, Stuart Wilson, European Partnering Ecosystems Research Director at IDC, revealed that almost 70% of European organisations expected to sustain or increase their security spending into 2021. Customers are increasingly investing in a strategy rather than a product to deliver specific business outcomes, and partners are well placed to wrap services, drive adoption and maximise ROI.

2. Changing channel needs a new approach

End customer needs are changing. Vendors are transitioning to software and subscriptions. Partners must adapt, and solutions lifecycle management is now essential to success. Our role as a distributor is to equip and enable partners with new capabilities and opportunities, so customers get maximum value and return on their solution, resulting in less churn, stronger renewals and upsell opportunities.

3. Customers want flexible purchase options

Customers want ‘recession-beating IT’ or solutions that are highly flexible in terms of the contract terms, financing, duration and scalability. Partners must respond with agility to keep pace and stay relevant, and invest in designing, selling and packaging solutions with outcome-based pricing with a shared risk/reward between partner and customer.

4. Partners double down on customer success

According to IDC, ensuring high renewal and retention rates are critical now, with 58% of VARs offering monetised training and enablement to help their customers on their cloud journeys and more than half using data and analytics to predict churn – because customer success is a necessity now, not a luxury.

5. Do you want security with that?

Security must be a shared responsibility, integrated from end to end and built into every business process, app and integration from the start. This ‘DevSecOps’ mindset emphasises the need for security as a foundation, not security that functions as a perimeter around apps and data. If security remains at the end of the pipeline or as an afterthought, organisations will find themselves affected by long development cycles or weak security postures.

6. SASE is more than a buzzword

SASE is expected to grow at a CAGR of 116% from 2020 to 2024. The opportunity for the channel is to deliver SASE as a framework that consolidates and co-ordinates all of its various components – SD-WAN, cloud, firewalls, secure web gateways, security functions – using open APIs and orchestrating in a way that makes sense to customers by solving their problems.

7. The channel needs partnerships

Open architectures that allow vendors to collaborate and run everything through an API enables automation, aids development and reduces time to deployment – all of which increase ROI and add value for developers and users. The role of distributors and partners is to use their expertise and market view to mitigate risk and deliver multi-vendor solutions that demonstrate and deliver real value to the customer.

8. Operationalisation is a problem and opportunity

According to Verizon, 82% of breaches in 2020 had a security solution in place that failed. This illustrates the huge problem of customers failing to operationalise their technology – presenting an opportunity for partners to provide expertise and support. Partners need to work with vendors they trust and wrap complementary services to create value with a transformational, outcome-focused approach.

9. Peering and the perimeter drives innovation

Peering, edge and secure connectivity are driving innovation because of the need to provide secure gateway access to applications efficiently and with low latency to match the experience customers get with their consumer technology. The service edge is now at the home or even the ISP rather than the corporate data centre, and this is driving massive change in the market in order to reach points of presence in remote locations across the globe.

Find out more about Westcon NGS or contact your local Westcon account manager. If you want to understand how our NGS portfolio can address next-gen threats or specific use cases, reach out to our Pre-sales teams for a demo.