Q&A: Channel Changes, Challenges and Future Focus Areas

08 September 2020 | Channel Business

5 Questions: With Jan-Jaap Jager, Board Advisor and CRO of Acronis. He shares his expertise on developing solid partner ecosystems, adapting to global changes, focus areas for omnichannel sales, as well as how AI has become a critical tool.

1. Your partner ecosystem at Acronis reaches customers in more than 150 countries worldwide. What are the key contributors to having such a solid partner ecosystem?

Acronis has developed deep relationships across the IT channel because channel organizations realize rapid value when they partner with us. Our solutions underpin successfully managed service offerings around the world, and our resellers and distributors are able to drive great volume since our products are highly differentiated and deliver real value to their organizations.

Our employees are passionate about the channel and respect the often multi-dimensional relationships they bring. Because we have offices in more than 30 locations around the globe and localize our key marketing and sales material, Acronis has a worldwide base of partners that find it easy to work with us. Plus, our state-of-the-art Acronis Global #CyberFit Partner Program gives them easy-to-use processes for more deals and bigger profits, with advanced sales and technical support that help every step of the way.

2. What changes have the current global circumstances brought to the workings of partner ecosystems?

The global pandemic and associated business responses are driving big changes to how the IT channel is run. In-person conferences and events are now practically non-existent. For many organizations, this cuts off an important lifeline as these kinds of events are their primary method of engaging in the channel. The channel is adapting, however, and many of these events are moving online. The related Facebook and LinkedIn communities are growing rapidly.

At the same time, products and solutions are evolving: Just look at the massive increase in demand for remote work solutions. Acronis provides partners with the tools they need to support their clients with secure, remote work environments, such has offering enterprise-grade file sync and share technology at no additional cost. By delivering features that safeguard remote workers and workloads, while further expanding the integrated backup and cybersecurity features available in Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud, we are helping partners ensure their clients can remain both productive and protected during this difficult time. These challenges have also brought non-technical changes. In our early discussions with partners, we learned that many were concerned about their cash flow and their employees. In response, Acronis partnered with a leading financial organization to launch Acronis #CyberFit Financing. Acronis #CyberFit Financing extends our mission to support our partners – providing access to the financial aid small businesses need to weather the economic downturn while ensuring the managed service providers that provide essential services will be able to continue delivering the cyber protection they need.

3. How should businesses adapt to these changes to keep developing their partner ecosystems?

Relationships! The IT channel is all about community and relationships. Trust is built through engagement, feedback, and programs that help both parties and it takes a lot of work. The world of IT is changing and it’s important that we work together as a community to bring new solutions to market. For example, with the advent of the mass move to remote work, the IT channel needs to work together to ensure new processes and cyber protection practices are put into place.

4. As an expert in global omnichannel sales, what would you identify as a current key focus area for businesses who wish to have greater success in closing deals?

B2B sales has evolved. We’ve all seen the statistics that 70% of the buyer’s research is complete before ever speaking to a salesperson. Yet many sales and marketing teams are still not aligned. Moving forward, organizations will need much greater alignment of their efforts – and a greater use of data to gain competitive advantages – to improve the close rates for their sales teams.

5. Final thoughts: AI-based active protection technology is an important component of your solutions at Acronis. Looking ahead, how will the importance and relevance of AI develop even further?

Increasingly, AI is becoming part of the solutions that we all know and love – and rely on. These enhanced solutions are creating new categories and transforming existing categories. And AI has become a critical tool of analyzing and extracting value from the data that organizations collect – data that needs to be protected.

While AI-based cyber protection is something that Acronis has offered for years, we are continually learning, evolving, and expanding our AI capabilities to stay ahead of the newest threats – especially since cybercriminals now use AI to develop increasingly sophisticated and damaging malware. To keep our edge, we have a team that is constantly refining the machine learning models at the core of our protection.

Since AIOperations is the next frontier for the IT channel, we’re committed to helping our partners adopt it. Transforming their workflows for AIOps is critical for both their long-term profitability and ability to lower the risk of cyber threats in the future.

Jan-Jaap Jager, Board Advisor and CRO of Acronis

About the Expert: Jan-Jaap Jager is a Board Advisor and CRO of Acronis, a global technology company that unifies data protection and cybersecurity to deliver integrated and automated cyber protection. He has more than 18 years of experience in the IT industry. Previously, he was CEO of the Intergenia Group, one of the largest hosting companies in Europe. Jan-Jaap has extensive experience in developing and growing emerging markets. In 2006, he joined SWsoft, now known as Parallels, with the task of building a whole new region from scratch that contributed substantially to Parallels’ revenue. Prior to joining Parallels, Jan-Jaap was a pioneer within Microsoft Germany, where he led the development and execution of the Microsoft hosting strategy. Jan-Jaap holds a BA in International Economics and Management from Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, The Netherlands, as well as an advanced degree from the University of Applied Sciences of Würzburg in Würzburg, Germany.

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