Mimecast saw a buoyant channel in 2018 in the UK, with double digit growth, but some commentators in the industry are worried that the general economic outlook may have dropped somewhat. “While confidence levels are not as high, in our area we remain very confident – we had a strong close to Q2 up nearly 30% yr/yr in the UK. And we see continued opportunity in the marketplace,” says Mimecast’s new UK channel director Tom Corrigan. He has been in place a couple of months, so we thought it was time to talk. Coming into the role from a decade in distribution, with Tech Data and Avnet, he is in a good position to report on the state of the channel.
The business is not standing still. Mimecast sees a major opportunity in the public sector and is gearing itself up for this in 2019. “With the public-sector opportunity as well as enterprise – and continued growth in the commercial space (<1000 seat), we see a good future. Partners need to differentiate and be more specialist, be closer to customer to position themselves effectively. Our job is to make sure the channel is set up for this future.”
The important part is that Mimecast has 700 partners in the UK, he says, with a tiered model and has built a “terrific business development and rewards model”.
“Maintaining that momentum will continue, where we have three big strategic top level partners, then 42 premier partners plus hundreds in the certified and business partner levels as well as an established MSP business. They are a loyal channel who see us as a key part of the offering, so there is nothing to fix there.”
“Things I can do in the next quarter or so will be to launch a further piece to the programme aimed at the public-sector marketplace. A key driver for this is the Microsoft digital transformation agreement (DTA) – we expect it to result in a significant shift from on-premise to Office 365. It is starting already and gives them significant advantages. We will be building out the public-sector focus in the next quarter. As those public-sector entities take decisions to move large seat counts to Office 365 they will be evaluating what they need to do to meet archiving requirements and securing email environments.”
“The third opportunity is our continuing capability which managed occasional interruptions in email services. We can give them continued access in times of interruptions. This public-sector business will be front and centre. We have a modest business there now, but with our channel we will energise it; that is top of my list.”
“Public sector – the big partner will all have public sector business, but our smaller partners doing specific services will need to be part of it. When we have our programme designed, we can make sure we capture those specialists. Whatever we design will be right-sized for the different partners.”
In that MSP channel with 100+ partners, he says he needs to make sure they are ready to move into enterprise and public sector. “That is a crucial piece for us”. For those partners who deliver managed services, he aims to make sure their services desks are top class.
In the very high end public sector and enterprise, the systems integrators also have a role to play, he says. “We are working on a programme to bring them into Mimecast, working in parallel with the public-sector programme.”
Partners will need to look at their email and web businesses. “We have a strong sales engineer function here and it will help deliver the enablement programme – we do a lot of both learning systems and classroom teaching, plus certification to support presales and front-line sale.”
There is no doubt that the channel faces marketing challenges in terms of market development and pipeline creation. Marketing strategies are changing dramatically – the day of delivering data to capture opportunity is over and will be not guarantee business in future. Partners are moving to stronger and more digital marketing. “If I Google a partner name along with Mimecast, what will I find? Will I just get a reference, or will I get something meaningful - Q and A’s, white papers, discussion documents etc, to capture the potential users' attention? Digital marketing tools will help evaluate the prospects. We know that some of the big projects we have won with channels were influenced by digital marketing: we can trace the line through from downloading a whitepaper, and then attending a webinar and then moving to face-to-face and through a sales cycles. It is working, and we want more of those. We have also been supporting C-level execs meeting channels in small meetings such as breakfast events which work well when kept small. We find they are willing to talk about the problems they are trying to solve.“