This April marked the beginning of our FY21 after celebrating record performance in FY20. Then, in what felt like overnight, we watched the world change. In a matter of days, my global sales organization was grounded, and the road warriors who were a regular presence in your hallways and conference rooms were suddenly working from home. Sales is in our blood and being with you and our customers is in our DNA; it was no small transition for any of us.
Now here we are, in our new normal finding new ways to connect. While we would have never chosen this path, the pandemic demands that we rethink how we drive business together. Next week we will launch our first virtual partner conference: Evolve 2020. Instead of meeting you in some of the most amazing cities around the world, we’ll be addressing you via a virtual platform. While keynotes and even breakout sessions will feature the familiar faces of our Sophos leadership team, we’ll miss being together. On the positive side, one of the benefits of this new world is that all of our partners and their employees can view these updates first-hand.
Early in March (before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic), we announced the completion of our take-private acquisition by Thoma Bravo. We shared our enthusiasm for how this move positions Sophos well for our next chapter of success and how it will accelerate our mission to deliver the world’s most effective cybersecurity technology. And this could not be truer, even today. With more than three months of new ownership under our belts, we are in a position to share a little more about what our future holds. My goal today is to give you some insight into how Sophos will continue to evolve and advance, and what this means for our partners.
First off, let’s talk about how we are evolving our channel sales team. We will increase our efficiency and responsiveness, while maintaining our world-class channel sales support. We will provide you with the tools you need to win business on your own and respond to the changing needs of your customers. This evolution may mean that the individuals you work with at Sophos could change, but the quality of support you receive will not. If anything, it will improve. The nature of how we meet is different. Face-to-face meetings have pivoted to virtual; lunch and learn sessions have become video calls. Yet we’re “always on,” staffing the phones and chat windows to be sure you can reach us.
Our investments in competitive intelligence and pre-sales technical teams will continue to arm you with the information you need to succeed. We have launched a new Partner Care team staffed by support professionals to help you navigate our Partner Portal and to answer questions around orders and licensing. By adding our Managed Threat Response (MTR) service, we now have an elite team of threat hunters and incident response experts who can detect and neutralize the most sophisticated attacks, even on an urgent basis during an active incident.
Like any moment of change, there will be a period of adjustment. This will mean that the Sophos of the future does not look like the Sophos of the past -and that is our intention. We are moving forward to meet the future. The IT landscape is changing at a rapid pace, and we need to be sure we are well-positioned to dynamically respond to changing market demands.
We will continue our channel-best commitment, and our partners remain at the forefront of our strategy for growth. We will make significant investments in systems and tools to make it easier for you to sell Sophos solutions and services and for our channel sales professionals to give you transparency into your performance. We will continue to mobilize teams that can help you position the competitive strengths of Sophos solutions, assist with RFP responses, and migrate customers to our highly effective next-gen solutions with ease.
Next is our products. After years of preparation, the time has come to focus on next-gen, and most of you have already made this transition. Together, we have created a next-gen business that grew 40% last year and now represents more than 60% of our billings. Our MSP business grew 75% last year, with more than 75,000 MSP customers.
Powered by AI, managed in the cloud, and synchronized together, Sophos provides our partners with the broadest set of award-winning products for new business, cross-sell, and upsell. Better protection and easier, more efficient management means increased profitability for you. The smart decision – for our customers, for you as partners, and for Sophos – is to move customers to our next-gen portfolio. These are our most advanced, most effective products, including our award-winning endpoint, server, mobile, and network protection, all centrally managed in Sophos Central. As you listen to Kris Hagerman (CEO) and Dan Schiappa (Chief Product Officer) during their Evolve 2020 keynotes, you’ll get a true sense of the power of the Sophos next-gen portfolio.
As we move forward with our transition to be all-in on next-gen, in the coming days we will be announcing a standard, multi-year end of life process for some non-core products. For those of you selling these products, rest assured we will be here to support the migration to next-gen every step of the way.
Next is our program. Please be sure to watch Kendra Krause’s keynote as she’ll cover this in more detail, as will Allison Clarke’s deep dive breakout session – but what they’ve created is an extremely competitive and lucrative global partner program designed to reward our partners who are most committed and engaged on our next-gen portfolio. By offering a consistent and transparent program, you can decide what level of engagement best fits your business and understand exactly what is expected and available at each tier.
With new tiers, discounts, and qualifications, it is a new program for sure, but one thing remains – Sophos is offering our partners an unbeatable program backed by our unwavering commitment to support you on your journey.
Now, I wouldn’t be a true salesperson if I didn’t have a close, so here is my ask: set aside time right now for the Evolve 2020 keynotes and breakout sessions. You will learn how to more effectively sell the synchronized cybersecurity system. It will help you get even more cloud smart and give you the tools you need to grow your services business.
The opportunity before you is profound – embrace it. Your customers’ behaviors and needs are changing, and the current environment we are in will only accelerate this evolution. Customers turn to you to be the expert as you advise them on the smartest ways to navigate this new world and to do it securely.
Finally, thank you. None of this happens without you – our partners. I’m incredibly proud of what we have built together. And I have to say, I am more than just a little excited about what we are going to deliver in our shared future.
– Mike V.