Cyberattacks are changing in alarming ways. Experts are seeing them trend away from automated attacks to a more hybrid approach. This method uses automation to find an organization’s weakest security link and human intervention to breach a network and break down barriers.

The only aspect of cyberattacks that hasn’t changed is the need to identify and mitigate threats with the utmost speed.

Sophos’s world-class defensive tools and services do just that: help organizations respond quickly, expel attackers and repair damage. In fact, more than 500,000 organizations and millions of consumers in more than 150 countries rely on the company’s solutions for protection. And with IBM Sterling® Supply Chain Business Network technology, Sophos can process orders for its critical cybersecurity solutions faster.

Sophos sells offerings exclusively through a multi-tier channel. It uses a global distributor network to relay orders from resellers located around the world. Processing orders swiftly and accurately is critical; if an organization buys security software, it often wants it as soon as possible.

Rachel Lacy, Senior Director, IT Applications at Sophos, elaborates: “What’s really important to the channel is a seamless buyer experience. When we work with distributors on EDI (electronic data interchange), we’re trying to reduce friction and process orders more quickly. We also want to give them an easy mechanism to place orders with us.”

In the past, distributors submitted orders by phone, email or fax. The order processing team would then re-key requests into Sophos’s order management system. Manual processes were not only time consuming but also made it difficult for Sophos and its distributors to know where an order was in the flow. As order volume grew, the firm realized its team would soon reach capacity. Moreover, it could stagger growth.

Paul Warren, Director, Order Management at Sophos, adds: “As well as demanding large amounts of time and effort to track and process orders, our manual approach meant there was always the risk of human errors entering the process and causing delays. To support our long-term growth, we needed to communicate with our trading partners faster and more efficiently. So, we looked for a way to automate the process.”

Processes orders

80%
faster

Closes 90% of all EDI transactions within

24
hours

Automating for speed and growth

Sophos selected the premium edition of Sterling™ Supply Chain Business Network technology. The solution delivers cloud-based connectivity across trading networks along with a designated Project Executive to assist with mapping and implementation.

“Early on in our decision-making process, we determined that a cloud-based solution was the best way to achieve a short implementation time,” recalls Warren. “Of all the providers we considered, we felt that IBM was the clear leader in the B2B integration space. As well as supporting the EDI standards and encryption protocols that our global distributors required, IBM Sterling offered scalability, giving us the confidence that the platform could continue to support our needs as our business grew.”

Working together with IBM, Sophos configured the Sterling Supply Chain Business Network solution to support B2B workflows for purchase orders, point of sale (POS), order acknowledgments and invoices.

“Without a doubt, IBM helped us automate our B2B workflows far faster than if we’d decided to build an on-premises solution,” says Warren. “With Sterling Supply Chain Business Network, we achieved in months what might have taken us years if we went it alone.”

Woman lookinng at computer screens

Faster order processing of cybersecurity solutions

By automating key B2B workflows, Sophos releases its personnel from time-consuming manual processes and creates the headroom it needs to accommodate growing volumes of orders.

Today, Sophos uses the IBM platform to exchange an average of 50,000 documents per month with its 20 largest global distributors. Orders are processed 80% faster than before, and the average time between receiving and closing an order was cut by 50%. Ninety percent of all EDI transactions are closed within just 24 hours.

“Today, EDI orders account for more than 60% of all our annual sales dollars,” says Warren. “And most of these transactions require little to no manual involvement from our team, which dramatically reduces the risk of human error entering the process.”

In addition to automating B2B document flows, the software provides real-time visibility into the transaction lifecycle. By identifying and resolving issues more rapidly, the buying process is easier and more seamless.

Lacy explains: “If we take an order via email, it’s just free text or maybe there’s a purchase order attached. There are no controls or anything to validate that the data coming in is what we need to successfully process the order. And emails are absolutely impossible to track.”

She continues: “One of the huge benefits of the Sterling platform is that it validates the data coming in. Distributors know straight away if there’s a problem with the order so they can fix it up front. You can also see which messages are coming through cleanly versus the number of rejections. You can’t do any of that with email orders. Sterling helps us have that feedback loop. It becomes a virtuous circle because it’s in everyone’s interest for the data to flow through cleanly.”

Since deploying Sterling technology, many of Sophos’s smaller distributors have grown to the scale where EDI is a cost-effective option. As a result, onboarding numbers are up.

“Businesses and consumers around the world need robust information security — and we need to be ready to capture the new opportunities,” concludes Warren. “Thanks to IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network, we have the order-processing capacity we need to keep growing year after year.”

About Sophos

Sophos (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a worldwide leader and innovator of advanced cybersecurity solutions, including Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and incident response services and a broad portfolio of endpoint, network, email, and cloud security technologies that help organizations defeat cyberattacks. As one of the largest pure-play cybersecurity providers, Sophos defends more than 500,000 organizations and more than 100 million users globally from active adversaries, ransomware, phishing, malware, and more. Sophos’ services and products connect through its cloud-based Sophos Central management console and are powered by Sophos X-Ops, the company’s cross-domain threat intelligence unit. Sophos X-Ops intelligence optimizes the entire Sophos Adaptive Cybersecurity Ecosystem, which includes a centralized data lake that leverages a rich set of open APIs available to customers, partners, developers, and other cybersecurity and information technology vendors. Sophos provides cybersecurity-as-a-service to organizations needing fully-managed, turnkey security solutions. Customers can also manage their cybersecurity directly with Sophos’ security operations platform or use a hybrid approach by supplementing their in-house teams with Sophos’ services, including threat hunting and remediation. Sophos sells through reseller partners and managed service providers (MSPs) worldwide. Sophos is headquartered in Oxford, U.K. More information is available at www.sophos.com (link resides outside of ibm.com).  

 

Solution component

IBM® Sterling Supply Chain Business Network

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