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PRO32 antivirus: history of entering the Russian market

Ruslan Suleymanov, Strategic Director for IT, Products and Services of PRO32: "Corporate clients are more than ever interested in flexibility and speed of realization of their requirements in new versions of software products. PRO32 has been able to make serious progress in the speed of change. Now it takes us about two to three weeks to implement the functionality that is required by the user. We constantly collect feedback and replenish the backlog of the product with actual customer needs. Based on this backlog, approximately every two to three weeks, we release a new version of the product, which implements the wishes of our customers. This system allows us to listen and hear the needs of the market".

Bringing any new antivirus to the Russian market in general is not an easy task. The shares in this product segment are distributed among major players, whose solutions enjoy a fairly high level of customer loyalty. The level of competition in the antivirus segment is so high that the emergence of a new player with serious ambitions always means a redistribution of the market.

Over the past year, we have done a lot of work to adapt the product and win the trust of users. This cost us additional investments of time and money. Many costs could have been avoided if we had had the right information at the time. Today, we can share our experience, thanks to which a modern, competitive solution has appeared on the market.

Here are the main conclusions we have drawn:

1.You can't rely entirely on previous experience. This was our first mistake. Implementing ESET solutions for 17 years, we relied on the needs of customers who had been loyal to ESET products for years. Knowing the needs of this audience was not enough for us to build a new product that was different from the existing solutions on the market. The market has changed and user requirements have become different. When we realized this, it took us a lot of time to conduct research on current consumer preferences.

2. Almost any foreign product, even one with international recognition, requires a long localization period. Changes affect not only technology, but must also take into account the human factor.

We chose the solutions of K7 Computing, an Indian company with 30 years of international experience, as the core of our product line. We immediately received positive feedback in Russia on the PRO32 antivirus. It has one of the fastest engines on the market, and at the same time provides high reliability in its main functionality - countering modern viruses and fraudulent threats. User dissatisfaction was caused by only one factor - the appearance of the product. The interface was slipping long outdated by now solutions.

When we went back with this feedback to our partners in India, at first they didn't even understand the problem "the product works, what's not to like then?" In India, the requirement for the appearance of the product is often not critical, the main focus is on the functionality of the product. In Russia, the situation is a bit different. Modern domestic software solutions are very advanced both in the technical part and in terms of ergonomics and customer journey. We collected user feedback and conducted several focus group studies and tried to take into account all the wishes of our customers for the new version of the product. The redesign of the product was finally realized in Russia, we did it in-house, involving leading usability and design specialists.

The real challenge for us was the speed with which we had to create a new design for five products in our new antivirus line. We didn't have a couple or three years to spare. The company's goal was to increase its market share as quickly as possible and become one of the leaders in the antivirus market. As a result, it took us only seven months to localize the first version of the products. At the same time, we worked on the redesign, which took us about a year in total. And these figures are without exaggeration a record for products of this class.

3. Cultural sensitivities should always be taken into account in the work. For example, we have come across the fact that in India it is very difficult to get clear deadlines for non-standard tasks. Constantly changing project deadlines would be the norm, there could be uncoordinated changes in functionality, design. This was not easy for us to accept. In Russia, however, agreements have a high force, especially if they are sealed with a contract.

4. Another challenge that awaited us when testing the first version of the product was the incompatibility of the product engine and cryptographic information protection tools used by many Russian companies. The efforts of our developers and partners from India were thrown into eliminating this problem. In three weeks, by joint efforts we were able to finalize the core of the product, completely eliminating the risk of any incompatibility.

This experience was not in vain. We changed our testing process for new products to avoid software conflicts. When testing our solutions for compatibility now, we take into account the peculiarities of all common products on the Russian market.

5. Working in a highly turbulent environment means that at any moment one of the leading players may leave the market and this will affect your plans in one way or another. You cannot be fully prepared for this. But you have to consider such a risk.

When we were preparing the first b2b version of PRO32 antivirus, customers did not have a high need to use other operating systems. Most were using Windows OS for user workstations and most of the servers. The Linux family of operating systems was also used, but only in a part of companies and usually only for servers. With the departure of Microsoft, the situation changed dramatically and many companies in Russia started a complete migration to Linux, including migration of both servers and user desktops. For us, this meant developing an antivirus client for Linux, which was not so popular before and was usually used for a small fraction of server solutions. We developed the solution with partners in India. Then we tested it in Russia on all recommended Linux versions included in the domestic software registry. In fact, we developed a new managed client for Linux in a record time of about 3 months.

6. Developing in an environment of rapid change has become not only our personal experience, but also an advantage. Now more than ever, corporate customers need flexibility and speed of realization of their requirements in new versions of software products. Most other products have been on the market for a long time, they are not always ready to quickly realize the actual needs of their customers and often do not have such flexibility. We were able to make serious progress in the speed of change. It now takes us about two to three weeks to implement the functionality that a user requires. We are constantly collecting feedback and updating the product backlog with current customer needs. Based on this backlog, approximately every two to three weeks, we release a new version of the product, which implements the wishes of our customers. This system allows us to listen and hear the needs of the market. This allows the company to develop faster.

One of the examples of such sensitivity in feedback is the case with the detection of a new type of data encryption malware. The heuristic subsystem of our antivirus detected typical encryptor behavior and blocked work with one of the files of one of our corporate users. The user contacted our technical support, providing a sample file. The sample file was additionally checked by major antivirus solutions, but none of the solutions detected malicious code. The file was submitted for analysis to a virus lab, which confirmed that this malware sample had not been encountered before. A new sample was added to the signature database within 2 hours, which allowed all our users to receive updates much earlier than the market became aware of the appearance of a new type of encryptor.

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