‘The toughest part is making the content both timely and relevant,’ says Stel Valavanis

Stel Valavanis on InfoSec Industry and Business Goals
Discover insights from Stel Valavanis, as he shares his journey, highlights that shaped his career as well as his perspective on online advertising and content syndication. Gain valuable knowledge on network security and business goals and learn about onShore Security's advanced solutions in data loss prevention and panoptic security information and event management.

Getting attention via media is both expensive and a long game but that’s the way to get the message out.

Media 7: Please walk us through your illustrious professional journey. Would you like to share some highlights or turning points that have inspired and motivated you?
Stel Valavanis: 
My goal in life was to become a scientist. But even before college, I was writing code and playing with technology and even started a software company. I still opted to major in Physics receiving a BA degree. But technology had seduced me and I went on to work in IT instead of graduate school. A few other false starts behind me, I founded onShore in 1991 as a software development company. That evolved into a software spin-off, an ISP spin-off and then the cyber security company we are today, building on our software and ISP chops and learning business along the way.

M7: Tell us something about your elite blue team, and how they work together to build and maintain secure networks.
SV:
These are some of the best experts in the industry but the jockey picks a great horse. We have developed our detection platform, the Panoptic Sensor and the Panoptic SIEM over many battle-hardened years. And the process is well-oiled, as you can imagine, involving tiers and workflow communication for alerting, analysis, tuning, and threat-hunting.

M7: How does your Panoptic Cyberdefense cyber security detection service help your clients achieve a good security posture? Do you have specialized services for different kinds of industries?
SV: 
Our rule-set is hardened on the banking industry. The difference with us, though, is primarily data, LOTS of data, raw data, at our fingertips. This means that humans can further analyze where machines left off. If I were a threat actor, I would rather go up against predictable and consistent machines over humans. Panoptic sees all and doesn’t just act on automated responses to post-processed data. When something’s not right we can see it and trace it back in time in our packet captures and net flow. Most other vendors drop this including every single so-called IDS system on major firewall brands.

M7: What role does advertising play in your overall marketing strategy within the InfoSec industry, and how do you select the most effective advertising channels or platforms to reach your target audience?
SV: 
We advertise on LinkedIn, targeting IT management. These are hard people to reach because they are inundated with solicitations. We also looked to get placed into publications where we can but it’s a long game, not lead-gen activity.

Read More: ‘Marketing can be the oxygen to a company’s growth,’ says Shashi Kiran


We really need better access to publications and media outlets that reach more technical audiences, not so much on actually producing content.

M7: When it comes to your go-to-market strategy, could you please share your future goals regarding the regions and markets you are aiming to penetrate? Additionally, what are the most common hurdles you face in your marketing strategy that you believe could be overcome swiftly and would have the greatest impact on your sales funnel?
SV: Businesses like ours get new customers heavily from relationships. This makes it hard to get out of regions where sales people are present. Conferences only get you a little extra exposure. We serve nationally yet 70% of our business is with Chicago companies. But that message isn’t always clear. Getting attention via media is both expensive and a long game but that’s the way to get the message out.

M7: How do you leverage content syndication platforms to streamline and enhance lead nurturing and conversion processes within your sales funnel?
SV: 
We sometimes post articles and longer blogs on medium and have had blogs and articles included in other publications.

M7: When it comes to custom content creation for your marketing campaigns, what are the most significant challenges or difficulties you have encountered? Furthermore, what steps do you believe can be taken to overcome these difficulties and establish an improved content creation strategy?
SV: The toughest part is making the content both timely and relevant. It can’t be a sales pitch. This starts with the topic but what we do is fairly complex and hard to communicate without some depth even if you get the topic right. Plus our audience is both technical and non-technical, so we always side with less technical, which doesn’t highlight our value as much. Honestly, we really need better access to publications and media outlets that reach more technical audiences, not so much on actually producing content.

Read More: ‘Pay special attention to customer loyalty, retention and customer happiness,’ says Alexey Raevsky


Education happens more via the community and not vendors so much so that marketing needs to contribute to the community as much as self-promotion.

M7: In terms of online advertising, what are the main drawbacks or challenges you have encountered? In your opinion, what strategies or approaches should be adopted for B2B advertising to achieve optimal results?
SV: 
B2B advertising is flawed in that it doesn’t really target the audience as well it purports too. And there’s no straight line to lead gen, which is really the results we want. Calls for action are not responded to because there’s no immediacy at that touch point. Honestly, I just don’t think it’s very effective. It is useful for brand-building and should be much less expensive than it is.

M7: How do you stay updated with the information security industry trends, emerging research, and the evolving needs of your target audience?
SV: 
Lots and lots of reading is the main answer. But that research is further developed by ongoing internal discussions between myself, our CTO, and our Product Development team. Other than that, conferences and interacting with vendors are a good source too.

M7: What challenges or obstacles have you encountered in building thought leadership, and what strategies have you employed to overcome them?
SV: 
Well it’s a firehose to drink from, but the harder part is taking those forward-thinking ideas and opinions and making them result in sales. For instance, so much of what is developing has to do with policy which I am outspoken about. But policy considerations are mainly a guide. The things that need to be done aren’t terribly new. We’re just trying to get people to understand how they are needed when so many just care about compliance. Everyone in the industry understands this as an obstacle.

M7: Lastly, how important is a well-defined marketing strategy in the information security industry, and how does it contribute to your organization's business goals and growth targets?
SV: 
The market buys a lot on brand name. That means anyone in the industry can’t stop gaining visibility and building their brand. Education happens more via the community and not vendors so much so that marketing needs to contribute to the community as much as self-promotion. This is in the form of content but also supporting conferences and non-profits such as open source. Ultimately, this raises up the whole industry while building brand and goodwill for our growth.

ABOUT ONSHORE SECURITY

onShore Security was founded in 1991, and its Panoptic Cyberdefense Security Operations Centeris one of the only handful of cyber security providers in the US to offer real-time monitoring, correlation, and analysis of enterprise-wide network security data around the clock. onShore Security collects data from any system, IDS on your site (lateral and egress), firewalls, netflow collectors, cloud-based sensors, and network devices, including encrypted payloads, and correlate that with logs from your systems into their ELK-stack SIEM to attain an end-to-end security view. To know more, please visit https://www.onshore.com/

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onShore Security

onShore Security

onShore Security, with its Panoptic Cyberdefense Security Operations Center, is one of a few cybersecurity providers countrywide that monitors, correlates, and analyzes organization-wide network security data 24/7. Our ELK-stack SIEM correlates data from any system, IDS on your site (lateral and egr...

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