People often think of security as an insurance policy—something you have to have, like locks on your doors, fire and flood insurance, and business insurance. While these are all true, there are opportunities to think of security as a business enabler, something that can help you open additional doors for your business and stand out from your competition. Whenever I can find these for my customers, I love to forward them on. It’s very satisfying to discuss how security can positively affect their bottom line.
As far as managed service providers (MSPs) are concerned, unquestionable security can be a differentiator. If you can go into a meeting with a prospective customer and say, “I'm protecting your data and your environment, and here’s how I’m doing it,” then you put yourself in a very strong position. If you can show them exactly how you’re ensuring no one will have access to your systems or your information, as well as all the things you’re doing to make sure your customers’ businesses are safe, you will definitely help to change the tone of any conversation and put prospects at ease. You will also be able to answer the question that many customers ask, “I just saw on the news that XYZ occurred; am I at risk?”
However, beyond this, MSPs also have an opportunity to add value by helping their customers find areas where they can differentiate themselves in their own market. In a previous blog, I recounted how one company I visited caught me off guard with its security approach. The company manufactured pipe for oil drilling and gas transportation, and had one of the most mature security setups I have ever seen. They were at the equivalent level of most banks. They really understood where security fit into their business, what their risk was, and how much they were spending on mitigating that risk. The reason for this was their customers were very large players in the oil industry, and they had realized that by having a solid security program in place, they were able to differentiate themselves from their competition and integrate closely with their customers’ sales and ordering systems—getting pipe to their sites much more quickly.
When you’re looking at security as a way for your customers to do more business, it will depend on their partners, their sector, and the regulations within the markets your customers are working in. However, being secure should now be a de facto standard that says, okay, if I'm going to do business with vendors, I need to have an appropriate security program in place, and that's going to help me drive business over my competition. Take the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as an example; in the lead up to the regulation coming into force, we reviewed our vendors and suppliers to help ensure they had the right security policies, privacy policies, and GDPR policies in place. The bottom line being that if they were not prepared, we could not do business with them.
There are ways companies are enabling their businesses by implementing more security measures. Security is much more than just an insurance policy—it a differentiator for you and your partners. MSPs have a key role to play here in helping customers look at their businesses and say, “OK, let me think about this. If I'm more secure, how does that generate more business for me? If I'm more secure, how does that make me an easier company to deal with?”
Security is top of mind for everyone these days, and MSPs need to be able to move customers beyond the fear and help them manage their risk, using a strong security program to their advantage.
Tim Brown is VP of Security for SolarWinds MSP. He has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing security technology, including identity and access management, vulnerability assessment, security compliance, threat research, vulnerability management, encryption, managed security services, and cloud security. Tim’s experience has made him an in-demand expert on cybersecurity, and has taken him from meeting with members of Congress and the Senate to the Situation Room in the White House. Additionally, Tim has been central in driving advancements in identity frameworks, has worked with the US government on security initiatives, and holds 18 patents on security-related topics.
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