Exclusive Networks’ CEO on services, skills and growth for 2022

Exclusive is making a solid commitment to attracting and nurturing new talent.

Continuously innovating with new services, growth and targeting specific geographies are top of mind for Exclusive Networks CEO Jesper Trolle in 2022.

Trolle was recently on Australian soil, taking the temperature of the local business, meeting the local team, talking to vendors and partners and listening in on how Exclusive is performing for them.

“We are occupying a unique spot in this market, not just in Australia but in general, where we are truly focused in cyber security, coupled with a global scale and reach that, frankly, no other distributor has today,” Trolle said.

“Oftentimes you find distributors that have a broad reach and also broad offerings. We have depth, skills and the expertise in cyber security services and we’ll continue to build our geographical coverage.

“It’s important as a cyber security specialist that we continue to innovate and continue to invest in the skills and the services and the expertise that is needed both from our vendors, but also from our customers.”

Trolle joined Exclusive Networks in September 2020 as CEO and has been on a mission to meet teams across different countries.

His visit was also coincided with the departure of Exclusive Networks Pacific managing director Jonathan Odria from the company, with Trolle noting he and Odria had been working on a succession plan for a few months, along with Exclusive Networks Asia Pacific (APAC) senior vice president Brad Gray. Lisa Stockwell has since taken charge of the role, replacing Odria.

“Jonathan took the company to a place that’s a great platform for someone else now to take it to the next journey,” Trolle said.

According to Gray, the distributor is making a solid commitment towards attracting and nurturing new talent and helping to plug the skills drain, particularly highlighting Stockwell’s appointment.

“It’s people like her in the industry that have the right experience and methodology to grow our talent pool,” Gray said. “We’ve got great talent to help our customers.”

It has been a busy 12 months for the distributor, making key acquisitions and listing on the Euronext Paris Exchange.

In November, Exclusive acquired South African company Networks Unlimited to boost its presence in that region with Trolle further hinting there were still markets it was keen to increase its coverage in around APAC, which it was constantly evaluating.

In July last year Exclusive added UK-based Ignition Technology to its acquisition stack to sharpen its focus on emerging cyber security vendors.

“Part of the heritage of Exclusive has always been our ability to pick what we believe are some of the future cyber security innovators, partner with them and then grow at scale as they develop into more mature cybersecurity players,” Trolle said. “The reason why we acquired Ignition was really to double down and create this launchpad for these new types of emerging technologies.

“Their go-to-market is a bit different because typically, channel partners are not investing at an early stage. In a lot of cases, they won’t have people on the ground and as a result, we as a distributor are doing a lot of that value-add.”

At the moment, Ignition is being launched in France with EMEA following suit. Trolle hinted that the company would look into other regions including A/NZ and Asia, to see where the launch will fit best.

Trolle said it was evident there ware a lot of opportunities with services that ultimately deliver more value around the solutions the company is taking to market for vendors, through partners and, in some cases, to the end customer.

“We’re continuing to invest in our people. There’s obviously a general lack of cyber security skills in the marketplace and so, for us, it’s all about making sure we can attract and retain the people that we need in our business and, then, frankly, also use this lack of skills as an opportunity for us to help provide some of those skills into into the partner and the vendor ecosystems,” he said.

The X-OD – short for ‘Exclusive Networks On-Demand’ – platform was launched last year and is designed to make the transition to subscription-based consumption fast, safe and simple for partners and their customers. Moreover, it gives vendors that are not currently subscription-based the ability to derive subscription-based revenues.

Trolle said the company would be growing the platform with more vendors and launching it in more countries, with A/NZ set to land this year.

“We are working a lot on adding more functionality to the platform, more countries to the platform, vendors and partners. There’s a team project managing this and we want to make sure we do that in the right sequence,” he said.

Besides the continuous supply chain and talent shortage issues, the fragmented cyber security market continues to be a sticking point for distribution, particularly, as Trolle pointed out, there could be upwards of 3,000 vendors introducing different solutions for cyber security.

“There’s a lot of fragmentation and complexity in the market coupled with a rapid increase in cyber security breaches and because of that comes new vendors that want to address some of those threats,” he said. “Coupled with shortages of skills and capabilities, this presents a major opportunity for us to address some of those needs for our partners with innovative products, skills and new services around that.

“I think the supply chain continues to be facing a bit of headwinds for some time this year and we are navigating this. We don’t have a significant hardware business but there are some firewalls and other areas that are impacted to some extent. And so we are mitigating and managing that where we can with alternative configurations, different products and solutions.”

Since Exclusive’s IPO six months ago, Trolle said it’s attracted more public awareness and reach into a different audience. At the same time, there are aspects of the business that will remain the same such as its operating model and laser focus on the cyber security space.

“There’s obviously public visibility to our numbers, our performance, but what I think  is really important is it’s made us a stronger business,” he said. “Raising capital is giving us a lot of strategic options to continue down the road of implementing our growth strategy, but also take advantage of big opportunities coming across our desk.”