UK reliant on US for innovation

Six years ago the reseller I was with tried to bring Ingrian Networks into the UK, but there was little interest. Business had been good in the US, so it was disappointing not to get a bigger take-up. Today, I am back with Ingrian Networks and sales are booming, as they were in the US all those years ago.

Six years ago the reseller I was with tried to bring Ingrian Networks into the UK, but there was little interest. Business had been good in the US, so it was disappointing not to get a bigger take-up. Today, I am back with Ingrian Networks and sales are booming, as they were in the US all those years ago.

There is a gulf of difference in attitudes towards security technology in these two markets. In Silicon Valley - the land of the entrepreneur, the gold rush and the internet boom - businesses are more open to risk, and the ensuing rewards.

In the UK, an altogether more reserved and risk-averse marketplace, there is much more resistance to change. This means the reference value of success in the first market is essential for the second to emerge.

Drivers for security remain the same in the US and UK - compliance and loss/breach incidents - but for security to become popular there needs to be a more tangible benefit to business.

When a technology is released in Silicon Valley, if it becomes popular, a cluster of competitors grows up around it. Businesses in Silicon Valley are pretty much exclusively high-tech and keen to try out the new technologies that might give them the edge over a competitor, usually at a reduced price.

Once a technology is established as being useful for business, further investment in the technology is easier to find, and expansion into a wider US market is the usual first step. Not all of these businesses make it to this stage, and a privileged few will be the market leaders.

Once established as a contender in the US, the next target is the UK market, which leads the pack in Europe. London is a huge financial centre likely to contain the vital early adopters needed to get a foothold in a market. Fewer again of the original businesses make it this far.

Trying to cheat this market progression, by starting in Europe or the UK before conquering the US, does not make sense, and is difficult take it from someone who has tried. The technology cannot build a reputation in an untested market, which is not receptive, or worse, is resistant to change.

Once sales efforts are started in the UK, results are not instant. The UK channel exists because of the nature of the US market, and relies greatly on reputation in the US. The market only becomes receptive on the back of very visible results.

Key management is just becoming popular in the UK, but I have watched this grow out of encryption for years, and then only gradually as a viable business, after a false start when the market was not ready.

This gradual phasing will continue while Silicon Valley remains the international bedrock of technology innovation, and although the gap between US and UK success may narrow, it will always exist.

● Rob Newby is director of client services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Ingrian Networks




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Security Zone is a bi-weekly series in Computer Weekly covering all aspects of IT security management. Each article will be written by a member of the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2.

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