Ramdas Shenoy speaks to Amit Nath of Positive Technologies on Cybersecurity in the Telecom space and his learnings for building successful organizations.
The 5G and Cyber Security Landscape
Stakeholders foresee that 5G will enable a wide variety of creative use cases as its uptake grows and features develop. However, the applications which run on these network designs also introduce new kinds of risks. Each generation of mobile networks presents an opportunity to replicate the security approaches that have worked and remove challenges that have been discovered.
Amit Nath is of the view that “5G is going to be very transformative and will change the way we do business in many countries. There is a thing about digital transformation, societies, nations, people, and industries. They all are changing because 5G has many use cases. It could mean more automation and less latency, but what it also means is that there is always a security risk when you go and try something new, especially when it is around 5G”.
The question then is whether we had any issues in the past generations – 2G, 3G, and 4G – and the answer is – absolutely yes! The challenge that bothers a telecom operator with a cybersecurity perspective is, for example, denial of service – an attack on a telecom operator bringing down the network to standstill. All this resulting in mammoth economic losses impacting the organization and the country at large.
“One could still conduct a lot of fraud even with 4G or 5G. One could still intercept the OTP that you get when you are trying to do a banking transaction. Somebody could still hack your phone or get into an operator’s core infrastructure and probably convert a pre-paid billing system and try to commit some fraud. The security challenges are many and even with 5G; those security challenges are going to move forward and they are not about to vanish” says Mr Nath.
“Therefore, as nations, as economies, we have become more transformative and more digital and try and protect operators, their subscribers and their business models”, he added.
For Positive Technologies, any mobile operator in any country is their customer. They would typically go with a promise to these giant operators, committing 100% security and protection. The idea is when somebody is using the telecom operator’s network, they should be rest assured that their identity won’t be stolen, they won’t be hacked or having a denial of service attack, and any theft of passwords.
“Our job is to secure the mobile infrastructure. For instance, when somebody launches 5G in any country, he sets up a big station – radio access network. When we conduct the testing on those radio access networks, we try to make sure that no one is allowed to enter the mobile infrastructure. So, no one is stealing information from that station. The business is to protect large telecom operators so that their subscribers are secured, and it helps in digital transformation” said Amit.
Consultant or solution provider
They position as the world’s 5G leaders when it comes to cybersecurity. Therefore, they have a product portfolio that has products and services helping telecom operators. Basically, the job is to lead the industry when it comes to cybersecurity. It is about the ability to outthink the hackers and proactively build a solution set that help the mobile operators stay protected by giving them a product or a service that really works.
Role of Marketing in Cybersecurity
Product marketing in the telecom space is a different ball game. The customers are known and mapped and these telecom operators are typically giants in their own right. It involves the ‘Educate and Engage’ model where you try to sell value to a telecom operator.
As Mr Nath puts it, “Marketing plays a different role depending on the life stage of the company. For us, marketing is all about how you create thought leadership. So, when someone thinks about 5G and Cybersecurity, they should think about us as a Company”.
Essentially it calls for creating thought leadership, which could be achieved through PR, articles in publications (online and offline), analyst briefings and other things, but the thrust has to be on the selling criteria.
At Positive Technologies, the sales qualification works on the BANT framework: Budget-Authority-Need-Timeline.
“The essential part is how to make the customer aware of something he may not know. By educating the customers and boosting brand awareness, you make sure they are in the consideration cell. From now on, when they think about cybersecurity, they think about us”, said Amit.
Mr Nath appreciates the value that marketing brings both for mature and young organizations.
“If you are a young company like the way we are, looking at scaling up our business model globally, then we would like our marketing team to do different tasks as we just outlined. Certain tasks will be of thought leadership, brand awareness, engagement with the press, analysts, influencers, etc. Also, some tasks will be about creating the alliances with local bodies or Government bodies,” said Amit. He reiterated that marketing plays a very critical role and ensures that the salesperson is given the right support to meet their revenue goals.
Conventional Vs Digital
Mr Nath believes that there is no ‘either-or’ concerning a conventional or digital way of doing marketing.
He tries to place the marketing world in the pre- and post-Covid scenarios. “Before Covid started, brands used to reach its customer via real events. We used to have these events every month either through a media house or the brand itself. What you wanted to do was to invite your customers to attend that event and they probably would speak to you there. However, now in the post-Covid era, everyone has moved to webinars. Both these models have their limitations” said Mr Nath.
A good brand, as Amit believes, is following a 360-degree aspect of marketing strategy and approach. “Take the best of what conventional marketing wisdom is and interpose it with some of the good stuff happening on the digital front,” says Amit.
Mr Amit further added, “I will still play the conventional game in a certain way, I will still do E-books, I will be seen in certain events, I will keep doing those stuff, but I will also have an aggressive strategy – digital-first strategy – to wherever my customers are. I know who my customers are and what they do, and I should be there in front of them and play a Twitter strategy or I could play a LinkedIn strategy because LinkedIn is a professional platform. For instance, my KPI for a digital strategy for next 12 months is to take my followers for a web page say from 5000 followers to 20,000 followers and that becomes a tactical play on the new ways to do marketing”.
He is assured that once the customer starts following you, they are going to see news related to you, as well as they could download the research papers and read about your company. This is the new way where you will have to find where your customers seek for information: whether a user goes to Google or he or she reads some research papers. There is a lot of digital marketing at play, but, at the same time, the conventional way is also here.
“So, if I am not meeting a customer in digital, I may meet him at an event, where he is giving an interview or where he is just going to. I cannot ignore both of these mediums if I have to play a concise marketing strategy. It is not either-or. We would prefer 360 degrees conventional plus the digital new way”, opined he about his marketing strategy.
Indian context, the Telecom space
A stable competitive market never has more than three significant competitors and Mr Nath is confident that the Indian telecom space will never get into a monopolistic scene too.
“It’s our assessment that both Jio and Airtel are formidable competitors to each other. They have their inherent strengths, having made an immense amount of investments and played their part in the Indian digital story. The idea could be struggling in short term due to some external factors like regulatory rules, higher spectrum pricing and other operational challenges but they have a reasonable amount of market share in India” said Amit.
“Ideally India would love to have more than 2 players operating, and I feel that these companies are here to stay. They are talking to be more competitive and increase their ARPUs. Globally we see more ARPUs coming to the operator in all markets with 5G. Indian ARPUs are the lowest in the world. If collectively they decide to have higher pricing, lot more companies in India will have a higher balance sheet because they have made some sizeable investments. In case 5G spectrum pricing is appropriate, it will be good for all three players. It will be interesting to see how the market dynamics and share will move amongst these 3 players”, he added.
Some learnings are external and internal. He feels that his biggest learning is that Companies that are very close to the customers are the ones that will outplay the competition.
“When building products and services, you should be close to the customers not only to satisfy their present needs but to be able to anticipate their future needs. At the same time, you are not building them because you just want to do that; you build them because it is coming from a certain customer need,” said Amit.
He further adds, “The closer you are to the customer, the closer you are to execution and operational excellence perspective to build a great company. This is my biggest learning! How do you ensure what your external customers really looked after? How do you measure satisfaction levels of the customer … which is dramatically important?”
The other emphasis is irrespective of the Company size and, in the end, it is about operational execution and excellence. The best strategy in your PowerPoint kit loses its charm when you cannot go out and execute that strategy.
As per Mr Nath, “The ability to be extremely agile and move really fast before competition reacts is a great competitive differentiating factor that I have learnt. So, any agile organization, which reacts faster, is not bureaucratic, follows simple processes, keep its eye on the market, can anticipate what is going to happen. These organizations are going to be successful from an external learning perspective”.
Mr Amit Nath values the most important resource – People.
In his words, “If you have the right team, you have the right talent. If you know how to attract, motivate and keep the talent, then you are in good shape. People will have a competitive edge, competitive strategy to stay ahead of the market and competition and grow really fast, not only for the external customer but the internal one as well”.
He doesn’t believe in bureaucratic organizations. Amit favors the approach of organizations where everyone is able to think of the business like he or she is an entrepreneur. His model is where all the team members irrespective of their job function should be seen as someone responsible for revenue generation. People are the most important asset, and the way you handle them is the crux of your success.
“If every employee thinks of the business as an entrepreneur and not as an employee, I believe we will all be in very good shape. Because you will think twice, before spending your own money and dealing in that situation and not because someone else is giving you that money”. The idea is simple: when more people are engaged, they will think of business as their own business which will lay down the path for companies’ success.
He laid special focus on the collaboration strategy with all the stakeholders, whether it is Government, regulators, customers, and partners. “Collaborating is something that you should have in your DNA and your ability to communicate upward, downward, sideways in the most transparent way is crucial as well,” said Amit.
Vision for Positive Technologies
Amit Nath has a clear vision for Positive Technologies as a global leader in the 5G Cyber Security domain.
“We already have a very good reputation with the telecom operators. In the years to come with any company, when customers think about cybersecurity they should think about us. We should be seen as global leaders who help our customers with appropriate solutions to help them to do their business better and leading the 5G era” said Mr Nath.
About Positive Technologies-
Positive Technologies is a leading global cybersecurity provider for the telecom industry and the first company in the world providing end-to-end cybersecurity solutions for mobile network operators. The company’s mission is to support MNOs in their continuous transformation in the 5G era by helping to create and maintain durable cybersecurity strategies.