Interview: ESET

The security software firm talks about its range of products and supporting smaller retailers
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Helen French talks to Quinton Watts. VP Sales & Marketing at ESET UK, about the firm’s aim of getting closer to independents.

How have the last 12 months been for ESET at retail?
Very positive. ESET has seen excellent growth over the past 12 months both as a brand and financially. We’ve developed strong relationships with Dixons Group and with Amazon – the majority of our sales have gone out through those channels. We have a small number of hereditary indie retailers that have been buying our product for years, and that’s been more by default than design.

And is that something you want to change?
Yes, we want to substantially grow our independent retailers, and these are the one-to-ten chain stores that are privately run. One of the reasons for that is that ESET has premium products and the heavy discounting in the main multiples is not a good fit with our existing brand positioning.

On that basis we want to work with people who not only educate the end user, but also provide a high level of service. PC World staff are well-trained, but there’s no substitute to a person going into an indie focused on computers and software, and that provides the backbone to what we’ve been doing in the market for the last ten years, which is to work closely with channel partners on high levels of service. We get compliments from end users about it – it’s very important to us.

You already have a partner programme that retailers can join, is that right?
Yes, we have a partner programme that we’ve had for a number of years that we’ve developed on an ongoing basis. Having said that, we haven’t had to make any significant changes in recent years. New independent retailers would slot into that same programme.

Part of supporting smaller retailers must include the competition you’re running in PCR this month to win an ESET Launch Pack?
Yes. Obviously a key part of building relationships in the channel is signing people up. We’ve got an excellent product range and good POS and to spike a bit of interest and give one of the retailers the ability to run a competition themselves, there’s a launch pack to win that includes product, POS and a laptop they can demo on or wrap it up into their own competition, and enable them to kickstart their own sales.

Do you find it important to go to events like Infosec and PCR Retail Boot Camp?
It is imperative for companies wanting to proactively build relationships with both prospective and existing customers to go to events. Not only does it provide a great forum to show off recent developments in our technology, but it also enables us to gather feedback on what our customers are thinking and what they require. Despite technology available to companies today, there is no, and never will be, substitute for face-to-face meetings in person. An enormous amount can be achieved at events which simply would not be possible by other means.

You’ve got a great range of security software. Looking at the mobile offering, many consumers still don’t understand how important it is to protect data on these devices.
Exactly. Like many others, I route work emails through to my personal phone. There is a great need for protection on mobile phones, and the same is true for tablets too. iPads aside, looking at Android for example, there are an incredible amount of Android tablets out there. They’re all being used for communicating, personal and business data, going on the internet; there will be threats that people need to protect against. Our mobile software covers Android tablets. It has some very strong antitheft features as well such as being able to track, wipe and lock hardware remotely.

As Android grows, it will see more threats targeted specifically towards it. The same is probably true of Mac and Linux too, where many users assume they don’t need security.
Yes, and they are wrong. As the Android market grows and because the marketplace is quite open compared to the Apple marketplace, threats will be written for it – it’s just a natural chain of events.

If we look at why malware is written, it’s written by businessmen who employ programmers to write malware to get a return on their investment. And as tablets become more prevalent they’ll start to see a bigger return. They’ll go where the business is.

It’s the same with Apple and Linux. Apple had a Trojan outbreak recently, minor in the big scheme of things compared to say the threats Windows faces, but it shows they are not infallible and that those users need protection.

What do you think tomorrow holds for both viruses and virus protection?
Prediction of what tomorrow holds for our industry is very easy. Accurate prediction is not. Having said that, we can be certain that technology will continue to invade and form a core part of all our lives. As such, so will viruses (malware) and an ongoing need for malware protection. The crimes perpetrated will be the same as have been going on for millennia – spying, stealing, mobbing, blackmail and extortion. It is only the methods of delivery which change over time and the methods of protection will have to adapt too. Increased usage of smartphones and tablets for office work, especially personal ones, is the next area companies should be focussing on.

Companies such as ours will remain at the cutting edge of computer protection and so long as users entrust their security to a reputable company they will give themselves the best chance of not becoming a victim.

What other product highlights are there in the ESET range?
We have launched a product that it is quite unique in the market and it’s our Family Pack Protection. Broadly speaking, it’s based on five user licences for PC, Mac or Linux, and an additional five for tablets or smartphones. In essence, it’s a ten licence pack. It will cover everything that a typical family will have. We’ve also given it an extended licence of 18 months compared to the more usual 12 months.

We’re trying to move down the route of saying you’re not trying to protect just the one device – get the whole family covered, protect everything that you do. The pack is currently in production. It’s going to be a matter of weeks until it’s available to independent retailers.

Any last words?
The indie retailers do not need to slit their wrists to get good sales. There is going to be a place for personal service – I’m a strong advocate of that. I prefer to shop locally for my own products because I can get good advice and take it back if necessary and get good service. There is a lot to be said for that. There’s a whole bundle of services that the indies should be offering outside of being cheaper than the last guy.

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