InfoWatch, a DLP and social media monitoring vendor, is focusing on emerging markets across the EMEA region, following its success in Russia and CIS countries. Alexander Zarovsky, international business chief at the company, tells us about InfoWatch’s strategy and plans for the region.
Tell us a little bit about InfoWatch.
The idea to create a data leakage prevention system did not actually come from market demand; in fact, it was a result of Kaspersky Lab’s evolving technical offering. The company had just acquired anti-spam technology from another Russian company that filters information based on an organisation’s network perimeters.
The management at Kaspersky Lab then decided to create a technology prototype that monitored and filtered outgoing data. The prototype worked and so a daughter company named InfoWatch was set up in 2003 with a focus on developing solutions to protect corporate confidential data. In the same year, the product had established itself and the company had already acquired its first client. Two years later, the term ‘DLP’ came into existence, and the abbreviation ‘DLP’ was only coined by IDC analysts in 2005.
InfoWatch was really the initiator and one of the inventors of this technology. In Russia, InfoWatch established the market for protecting corporate information from internal threats, and other players began to appear two to three years later.
Q: How has the company evolved over the years?
The DLP market itself is quite narrow – not all companies need DLP protection. By analysing the size and the speed of market growth in 2009 we decided to expand our business into other areas and expand our offerings to suit both the enterprise and SMB segments.
In 2010, InfoWatch, together with another vendor, created a Russian subsidiary “Kribrum” which deals with a new generation of social media monitoring systems and is hugely popular across customer-centric industry verticals such as banking and hospitality. It is a cloud-based social media monitoring solution to help companies manage their reputation, improve customer experience and leverage customer opinion expressed online for market-winning product development.
In 2011 we turned to SMB sector and acquired a small but active German vendor Cynapspro, recently renamed EgoSecure to offer endpoint protection for small and medium size companie.
Q: So how did the move to the Middle East come about?
InfoWatch has been present in the Middle East for more than two years, we decided to move here as part of our expansion campaign. The market is attractive for the company because it is gaining traction in the DLP and social media monitoring segments.
Increasing data volumes and bring your own device practices coupled with regulatory requirements are creating the need for robust solutions to protect corporate information. For instance, governments are tightening data protection regulations following the increasing number of recent political data leaks.
In order to drive the adoption of our solutions on the Gulf region, we have invested in customising our proprietary linguistic analysis technologies to support Arabic language monitoring and control. The Gulf countries have responded very well to the technology and welcomed InfoWatch with an open mind. In addition, we also have solutions focused on industry verticals such as government, banking, manufacturing, media, airlines and telecom. For instance, InfoWatch Traffic Monitor Enterprise has a set of preloaded data processing and decision-making rules, report templates and analytic queries, which are customised for a variety of vertical industries.
Q: How would you describe your channel strategy for the region?
We collaborate with solution experts, consultant companies and resellers to provide our unique offerings. We started looking out for very niche partners and the idea was to appoint at least two strategic partners for each Gulf country. We have been successful and now have 10 partners working with us to reach out to the entire market plus a few more in the pipeline for other markets. Partner selection depends on their technical expertise; solution understanding and market reach ability. They should also be industry preferred and vendor oriented.
Q: Could you give us more insight into InfoWatch’s training initiatives for partners?
We have focused training programmes for each of our partners to enrich their technical and sales skills. We regularly conduct single day dedicated sales training to educate the sales teams on our products and solutions and train them on our unique offerings. In addition, we also have a five- day technical certification programme designed specifically for engineers to enhance their solution implementation and support handling skills.
These programmes are conducted on a case by case basis depending on partner requirements and demand. The feedback from partners has so far been very good as we are flexible to conduct these trainings on-site or over the Internet.
Q: What are your plans for the next 18 months?
We are consciously shifting our focus and gearing our strategies to promote our products and solutions across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and in addition to other emerging markets like Africa.
In the next 18 months, we aim to create a recognised brand name and establish a concrete presence as a leading DLP and social media monitoring vendor. Naturally, our channel partners will be strategic to all our plans and we will continue to support them in their growth strategies and objectives.
Q: In your opinion how is the threat landscape likely to change in the future?
There are a number of trends in the security landscape in the coming months and years that we believe we only impact our business positively.
For instance, the amount of information owned by companies will continue to grow steadily and it will be extremely difficult to control this huge and unstructured data without the implementation of a specialised data monitoring and control system. This will lead to further development of the world’s DLP market.
Another trend is a telecom revolution where the widespread use of the next generation 4G communication standard will inevitably lead to facilitation of e-commerce and also indirectly to more data being stored electronically. Companies will then need to think about data categorisation and protection from unauthorised usage. These trends will also lead to a strong demand for DLP solutions in general and we will do our best to meet this demand