Slovakian-based security software vendor ESET has announced two moves designed to expand their presence in the Canadian market. First, they have opened a Canadian office in Toronto. Secondly, they have hired a Canadian country manager to run it. Iva Peric-Lightfoot, a longtime Symantec veteran who was most recently in charge of Canadian distribution at Navarre Corporation, which handles ESET’s Canadian retail business, takes over in Canada.
ESET, which sells through a partner channel, has had partners and customers in Canada for years, thanks in part to an aggressive web-driven presence. They had no local management however, and no Canadian distribution, so all their business was done by ESET direct with partners, out of the U.S. In addition, while they had a Canadian office, in Montreal, it was a research-focused office, rather than sales and marketing.
“Now, ESET recognized an opportunity to expand in the Canadian market, and the Toronto office is a key part of this,” Peric-Lightfoot said.
Peric-Lightfoot has only been on the job for three weeks, and is still sifting through the data and learning the landscape before committing to specific sales and marketing strategies for Canada. One likely change, however, is some sort of distribution deal. While ESET signed a distribution deal with Ingram Micro in 2014, that agreement covered only the U.S.
“We will be looking at the distribution strategy,” she said. “My background is in distribution, going back to Merisel in the 1990s. It’s clear that traditional distribution hasn’t been leveraged by us in Canada.”
Peric-Lightfoot said it’s too early to determine who the distributor will be, and intimated that just because Ingram Micro handles ESET in Canada, doesn’t mean that it will automatically be them in Canada.
“My feeling is Canada needs to be treated as a distinct market, and we need to be sure we are making the right decision here,” she said.
Peric-Lightfoot said that the presence of the Canadian office in itself will significantly boost ESET’s Canadian efforts.
“Opening the office gives us the presence that can leverage the Montreal research office, and put feet on the street in Canada,” she said. Better leveraging the partner community will be critical as well.
“With dozens of players in the security space in Canada, the key to standing out is being able to leverage channel, with some level of credibility.”
While Peric-Lightfoot is just beginning to put together a systematic partner strategy, some very general contours are clear at this stage.
“The ideal channel coverage will depend on the market, but will be between several dozen and several hundred partners nationally,” she said. “Defining verticals is important for us, and an MSP might be a key partner for a specific vertical. We have customers in both the SMB and the enterprise, and more conventional partners work well there.”
About 55 per cent of ESET’s business is the commercial market, with about 45 per cent consumer.
“The consumer market is important not just because of the sales, but because it also provides brand recognition,” Peric-Lightfoot said.