Consolidation of Vendors, Usage of AI & ML in Cybersecurity to Dominate

Amid the increasing blare of the pandemic and the spectre of omicron casting its long shadows over the tech landscape, we have ushered into 2022. Channel success which has always been the holy-grail for any business is all set to get a makeover in the new year.

As part of our effort to get the channel community better informed and get an earful of what the who’s who of Indian IT are thinking, expecting, and planning for the channel community in 2022, we have started this new section to record the channel predictions of the most prominent players of the IT industry.

Here, as part of this special series of Tech Forecasts, BlackBerry registers its predictions for 2022.

Reputed to be the brand that created the mobile workforce with trusted security at the incipient, BlackBerry provided the freedom and the assurance to work whenever and wherever. Today, the company secures over 500M endpoints and continues to offer customers trusted and intelligent security.

In an exclusive interaction with SME Channels, Graeme Pyper, Managing Director – Asia Pacific, BlackBerry, shares his company’s Channel Predictions for the year 2022. Edited excerpts

Give a brief introduction of your company.

The Internet of Things is driving the next great wave in business transformation. For over 35 years, BlackBerry has invented, created, and built security solutions to give people and business the ability to stay secure and stay productive. BlackBerry created the mobile workforce with trusted security at the very beginning and provided the freedom and the assurance to work whenever and wherever.

Today, BlackBerry secures more than 500M endpoints including over 195M vehicles, and continues to offer customers trusted and intelligent security, everywhere. Frost & Sullivan determined that BlackBerry is well positioned to secure all IoT endpoints, and protect against upwards of 96% of cyberthreats in the current landscape. This is how we protect everyone, everything, everywhere, every day.

As the pandemic is still there and a new variant has surfaced, what major market trends would you forecast for 2022? 

First, quantum computing will be on top of the mind. The current speed of technological advancement places an emphasis on the importance of securing critical industries, particularly with the development of quantum computing. In just the past few months, security experts have witnessed the damage that hackers can cause using basic artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Once threat actors can leverage the massive cyber power from quantum computing and develop new attack vectors, ransomware attacks will become even more catastrophic.

2022’s threat landscape will be led by how quickly quantum computing will evolve. While most believe this technology is still years away from being fully applied, the cybersecurity community must start applying resources and bringing together our brightest minds to formulate solutions that can defend against quantum computing once it inevitably falls into the wrong hands.

Quantum computing will undoubtedly spur rapid technological advancements across multiple industries. However, if left unchecked, the cybersecurity implications on organisations and their sensitive data will be vast and uncharted.

Next, the expansion of 5G will open new threat vectors. 5G is transforming critical infrastructure in almost every industry, including the growth of cloud computing, industrial automation, and augmented reality. As 5G redefines network architecture, the cybersecurity community’s approach to securing it must change in tandem. This accelerated transformation away from hardware-based routing and towards a digitally defined world – a key component of the 5G network – will leave millions more vulnerable to cyberattacks than ever before.

The dissipating barrier between digital and physical, as well as the growing number of connected devices relying on this new technology, will open new doors for threat actors to strike. Strategies to secure distributed networks must be embedded into product design and built around 5G capabilities, not the other way around. Going forward, the cyber community must recognise and quickly address the looming responsibilities that await as 5G is implemented throughout every facet of life.

Third, the role of cybersecurity in business, as usual. The pandemic upended critical supply chains, fundamental institutional arrangements, communities and everyday life. India is now recognising the need to push ahead and accelerate projects that were cancelled or shelved due to COVID-19. The new normal is tech-driven and organisations simply cannot leave cybersecurity as an afterthought anymore. It must be front and center to enable the delivery of these projects in a COVID-safe manner.

What major trends would you forecast in the channel market?

The pandemic has brought about a tremendous shift across the B2B channel with changing buyer and customer needs and preferences, evolving partner business models and value, and growing competition for partner mindshare. 2021 saw end-users seek to consolidate vendor solutions due to supply chain disruptions. Channel partners now need to formalise a partner ecosystem strategy that focuses on vendors who are not reliant on other technologies, but offer comprehensive end-to-end solutions from edge to core.

In 2022, we expect to see:

  • A consolidation of vendors in cybersecurity, with a focus on prevention.
    • To support value creation for unique partner business models and to address buyer needs for integrated, end-to-end solutions, channel leaders need to become ecosystem orchestrators to programmatically support co-innovation of multi-partner, multi-party, buyer-desired solutions.
  • The usage of next generation technologies
    • The usage of next generation technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to produce better cybersecurity outcomes.
  • The future office
    • Remote and hybrid working will still be the primary type of work in 2022, and channel leaders will need to be able to support greater demands and expectations of the workforce with innovative technology-based solutions.

Which areas you want to focus in the channel – skillsets – sales and marketing, vertical and technology practice development, service capability, or any other? 

India is looking to strengthen the protection of data through the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) bill, which is similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). To comply with the PDPA, organisations, ranging from small-medium enterprises to large conglomerates, will need strong security controls across applications, devices and IoT endpoints. Recognised for delivering the world’s most secure and integrated mobile solutions, BlackBerry is uniquely positioned and will focus on meeting this increased demand in 2022.

Our partners have access to resources and tools to help shape their expertise and aid their customers in securing their businesses. These resources and tools include technical training, a development platform, partner success stories and online learning. We have various programmes, such as BlackBerry ISV Partner Programme, BlackBerry AtHoc Development Partner Programme and BlackBerry Authorised Training Partner programme, designed to suit our partners’ business models and improve their skillsets. Sharing our experiences in global markets with our partners and local teams is the key to our joint success.

What percentage of budget growth are you expecting for channel development? 

India and the wider Asia Pacific region are hyper growth markets for BlackBerry and we are expecting strong growth from our existing and new customers. Our partners are now more vital than ever in delivering comprehensive AI solutions to their customers to help them defend against the ever-changing threat landscape. Prevention is better than cure, and we believe we have the most effective AI-driven technology to prevent today’s cyber-attacks.

To reward our partners for their continued efforts, we launched our Protect and Earn programme in 2021 to drive mutual and long-term success. We are investing in our partners that extend this protection to at-risk organisations globally. Partners can take part in sales and technical training, market development and authorised service provider programs for partners to grow profitable, differentiated cybersecurity businesses from day one. The feedback to this programme has been outstanding, and we are looking to leverage similar investments to support our growth plans.

What is your expectation from channel this year? 

Our partner and channel ecosystem continues to demonstrate strong momentum. This expanding network offers significant growth opportunities for BlackBerry’s channel partners to elevate their capabilities and bring more value to our shared customers. As more partners choose to work with BlackBerry, our ecosystem continues to grow, which offers our customers cutting-edge solutions to complex business problems. Apart from a closer working relationship with our partners, our expertise within cybersecurity will help them better support their existing customer base, especially with our solutions specifically scaled for remote- and hybrid-working.

Are you planning any new product addition for the channel market? 

Digital transformation and the ever-changing threat landscape keep us on our toes to be agile and innovative in order to stay ahead of the game. Our expanding network offers significant growth opportunities, and we have a continual development cycle to innovate and stay ahead of the curve to better serve our partners and customers alike.

Is there any channel expansion plan in terms of numbers in 2022?  

We continue to open new business and sales channels that were previously untapped. We are confident that each will serve as growth engines for our business, fueled by demand from our partners and customers, as well as industry trends. We are open to new partners across the region that have experience in cybersecurity and in remote working, including the likes of system integrators and service providers who are keen to integrate BlackBerry technology into their managed services.