Avinash Advani, the Founder and CEO, and Vivek Gupta, the Co-Founder and COO, at CyberKnight, speak about the road ahead for 2022
How was 2021 for the industry and your company?
There are two ways to look back at 2021. First is in the context of the pandemic; 2021 was really about letting the dust settle, or as we named it The Year of Stabilization. Then, in terms of CyberKnight’s history, 2021 was Year 2 of our journey, so if 2020 was the Activate Phase, 2021 was the Build Phase, and 2022 will be the Accelerate Phase.
From an industry perspective, although everyone was impacted negatively by Coronavirus in 2020, cybersecurity was one of a couple of domains that managed to stay in the black, along with collaboration. So, in 2021 we saw quarter-on-quarter revenue growth reflecting a steady return to normalcy. Also, the dynamics that were observed in the previous year started to revert such as in-person customer and partner meetings, relatively more normal procurement cycles, in-person strategic marketing events such as GISEC and GITEX with phenomenal attendance, and progression of deals with RFPs being released consistently.
In fact, quarterly targets started to matter again as achieving them became possible while markets started to open up and travel became possible during the year. All-in-all, it’s been a busy and positive year, wherein we have managed to overachieve both our Top-Line and EBITDA for 2021.
Did you face any challenges in 2021?
There was a continuation of remote working for many of our customers and therefore it was still a matter of webinar fatigue for the first half of the year. Furthermore, travel restrictions hindered our ability to have many in-person engagements, and several in-country marketing events and initiatives that were planned had to be canceled.
Also, although spending did increase somewhat in 2021, we saw projects get reprioritized and shifted to manage spill-over from the previous year, in addition to the limited post-pandemic budgets.
What were your key achievements in 2021?
In 2021, we managed to:
- Build a strong pipeline of over $100 Million
- Nurture our deep partner relationships transacting with over 400 resellers across the region and managing more than 50 strategic partners
- Develop and close several large mega-deals in each quarter
- Grow the on-the-ground teams across the region giving us local coverage in the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt
- Enhance our product portfolio to tell an effective Zero Trust Security story with 23 vendors in total
- Execute several successful marketing events and campaigns
- Extend our enterprise and government customer coverage with over 350 named accounts
- Build on our technical expertise operating as a trusted security advisor and thought leader to partners and customers alike
- Expand operational capabilities including logistical support across the Middle East
- Optimize our business processes by building automation into our ERP/CRM
What promises does 2022 bring along?
We hope that travel restrictions are lifted, cybersecurity budgets are increased to combat the exponentially rising threat of cyberattacks, and that Omicron doesn’t take the world backward, and that there is limited (or no) impact from new COVID-19 variants.
Do you see opportunities in the regional markets with new markets opening up?
Definitely. Next year we have FIFA World Cup in Qatar which should create a surge in short-term spending to ensure that relevant organizations meet the compliance mandates that have been levied. Also, markets like Kuwait which have remained inaccessible since the pandemic begin should start to open up creating increased local demand. Lastly, Egypt is rapidly emerging as a shining star, and we see big potential.
According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2022?
From a cybersecurity standpoint in 2022, Zero Trust Security will still be top-of-mind and we also expect cloud security, XDR, NDR, data protection, and identity-centric security to be prioritised.
What will be your key focus areas for 2022?
- Revenue: 2022 is the Year of Acceleration so we will look to grow 100% of our exit revenue in 2021
- Profitability: Attention will be given to enhancing profitability to drive consistent and increased financial health for the business
- People: We will continue to invest in resources across the region to manage the 2x growth
- Process: We will optimize our processes as a part of continuous improvement
- Technology: To make our Zero Trust Security more robust we will add a couple of strategic established vendors and niche vendors, plus drop a couple of non-performing vendors to keep the portfolio consolidated
- Go-to-Market Strategy: We will enhance the Customer Advisory practice with a two-prong approach.
- Consistently evaluate and acknowledge our customers’ needs, levels of satisfaction, and any areas they might need additional support in order to earn and keep their trust
- The second prong to focus on is making sure that we are targeting the right customers / doing the required due diligence to understand what they want, why they want it, and if we are the right fit to provide it for them.
What would you like to do differently in 2022, when compared with 2021?
With a hope that the travel restrictions will ease, we expect significantly more business travel and in turn more in-person and in-country marketing activities. We will be looking at enhancing our Zero Trust Security message to cater to the rapid pace of cloud adoption.
We will also be looking at transitioning to use-case-based business development and marketing, moving away from siloed product-centric or even solution-centric approaches. Lastly, we will be embarking on our own intellectual property path.
Do you plan to enter new markets or add new products/applications to your portfolio in 2022?
Although we are already doing significant business in Egypt, we plan to invest in local teams as we expect Egypt to play a large role in revenue contribution in the coming years. Beyond Egypt, we are continuously monitoring new markets for future expansion.
In terms of our portfolio evolution, this is an ongoing initiative. We are constantly evaluating vendors that will complement our offering so we definitely expect new products to come into the portfolio next year. But in order to maintain focus and a limited number of total vendors, we try to consolidate the portfolio as much as possible by conducting annual reviews and business analysis on existing vendors to ensure that they are aligned with our growth strategy.