By James Forrest

Late in 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Johnson, a North Carolina native with a real pedigree in information technology. A former chief information officer at LGS Bell Laboratories and the North Carolina Department of Justice, Ed began talking to me about the exciting market opportunity he had with an international leader in internet security solutions.

Now, that market opportunity has become reality with the launch of GDS Transnational here in Durham.  GDS Transnational is the newly-launched American unit, led by a Durham-based executive team, of G Data Software, the world’s first and foremost internet security solutions provider.  G Data maintains international corporate headquarters in its hometown of Bochum, Germany, and established itself in the European market in 1985, as the world’s first company geared at internet security, anti-virus, and malware protection products.

The GDS leadership team was kind enough to sit down with us again recently and share some of the real differentiators of G Data that compelled them to bring the company to the US market after such a dominant run in Europe and much of the rest of the world.  In short, they believe that G Data is a game-changer in the North American internet security market. They shared, with tremendous pride, the company’s recent awards, including their number one ranking in PC World.  Another huge win comes in the form of the just-released June 2012 issue of Consumer Reports, where the company has just landed a highly-coveted recommendation and the highest across-the-board scores for pay suites in the internet security market.

G Data is often the first-to-market with new features that advance the science of internet security. For instance, the company is now the only current provider in the enterprise space to offer double-scan technology, offering two lines of defense against spam, malware, bots, Trojans, worms, and all of the other awful things that get thrown at our computers on a daily basis.  I was really taken aback when they shared the level of scrutiny that G Data performs on all of the bad players out there who are generating computer viruses—the company does an hourly scan of the global malware landscape, and it detects and deters new entrants within 19 minutes of their release.

Another aspect that I found particularly clever was the fact that G Data waits for idle moments—when screen-savers typically kick in, to run scans, instead of slowing down computer users as they work.  In addition, G Data is the only provider in this area that offers built-in mobile support (G Data MobileSecurity for Android-platform tablets and smart phones) with every product.

The management team is building out a formidable multi-channel business development platform.  Sita Johnson is spearheading strategic alliances with other firms offering complimentary security technologies in order to expand GDS Transnational’s product portfolio and to better differentiate them from the competition.  She is also targeting alliances with large enterprises like financial services institutions, as well as colleges and universities.

Michael Whitworth heads up sales and marketing efforts for the company, primarily focusing on the B2B channel, in addition to ramping up other channels, such as retail sales and electronic software downloads through GDS’s company site and other re-sellers and affiliates online. Thom Fraser is leading distribution and B2B channel business development efforts, while Doug Meeker heads up partner relations and development.  Steve Powers directs customer and sales support efforts.

Roger Scott, the company’s chief financial officer, sees real progress in the company’s multi-channel efforts to win market share, particularly at enterprise-level sales in the education sector, an important, emerging stronghold for G Data.

Perhaps what I am most impressed with from the GDS team is how they are choosing to go about their launch of G Data in North America. With such a broad geographic directive from Germany to establish a beachhead and work the American and Canadian markets, they have chosen not only a multi-channel model, but one that pays particular attention to their backyard community here in the Triangle and North Carolina.  They are focusing on gaining customers and partners in our area and fanning outward from the Carolinas as they develop business across the continent for G Data.

Each leader I’ve spoken with at GDS Transnational takes great pride in the culture of the company.  They are building a very high-touch, warm customer service experience, as evidenced by the company’s leadership diving in to solve any customer issues in switching internet security providers from the outset.  The company also brings a minority, woman-owned perspective (through Sita Johnson’s ownership stake), as it relates to the communities it serves. And their commitment to building the Triangle business community is certainly impressive as well.

What you have at GDS Transnational is basically a startup for “grown-ups.” With their experience running IT operations at and on behalf of some of the world’s largest companies and government entities, this team knows that its suite of products has the capability to save CIOs huge chunks of man-hours in maintaining internet security, driving greater efficiency and bottom lines to help spur company profits as we emerge from recession.

And Sita Johnson, a mother herself, is quick to point out that G Data’s products are every bit as good for mothers looking to protect their children from all of the viruses and bad sites out there.  What’s good for the corporate chief information officers is also good for parents wanting proper home protection.

I am very proud to have the G Data as a Forrest Firm client. Not only am I incredibly excited about their business prospects, I really appreciate them as people.  During a time when many people feel stressed by the pressures facing startup businesses, this group is embracing the challenge and enjoying their work, with a laser-like focus on their clients and their partners.