Symantec 4.0: A New and Improved Partner Experience?
At its Vision 2013 conference this week in Las Vegas, Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) is banging the drum hard on its new corporate vision (how fitting), emphasizing an integrated, simplified product set and improved user experience. But how does Symantec 4.0 impact its channel partners, and, more importantly, are those changes for the better?
Back in March Symantec announced sweeping changes to its organization designed to enhance user satisfaction and essentially bring back a sense of relevancy to the company’s technologies. Based on feedback from everyone from users to analysts, channel partners and even non-customers, the changes are broad-sweeping and include integration of what is essentially 150 point solutions into a smaller, tighter product set.
Symantec also is working to serve customers’ unmet needs, tapping new market opportunities, and making an effort to reduce a recognized complexity of working with the company.
“When we spoke to people around the world, the story was essentially the same: We had great assets but we were underperforming against opportunity and we lacked strategy and an operational plan,” said Steve Bennett, president and CEO, during his keynote address at Vision. “Our strategy for growth had been through acquisition but we didn’t integrate those technologies well, and so we essentially ran them as 150 different point solutions. It was confusing to the market.”
Bennett, who took over the reins as president and CEO last fall, saw a need to transform Symantec from its current state. But, he said, “there’s a lot more to do than I thought there was when I was a board member.
“We can’t get to where we need to go with evolution,” he said. “Change like this requires a revolution.”
Hence, Symantec 4.0. (Why 4.0? Bennett is the company’s fourth CEO. Simple as that.) In this new focus, the company is “doing the hard things in a thoughtful way,” including:
- Creating a strategy and operational plan focused on driving organic growth;
- Solving customers’ largest unmet, underserved needs; and
- Reducing complexity and simplyfing to make it easier to do business with.
Symantec also concedes it can’t do it all, but it doesn’t believe any other vendor can either. “We are going to stay focused on the endpoint and on the data center, and we’re going to partner with network security providers to fill in the blanks,” Bennett said. “No one on their own can solve all the challenges customers have in today’s environment. The world needs someone to step up and integrate to solve the world’s problems.”
Symantec 4.0 mixes up its go-to-market strategy, placing an even greater emphasis on its channel partners, including them in more than 80 percent of sales. Specifically, the channel will have plays in Symantec Enterprise (both direct and customer-led channel involvement), Symantec Commercial (channel-led with a dedicated Symantec partner team) and the new Norton Consumer and Small Business, formerly Symantec Consumer (combination of e-business and channel-led).
“Partners benefit from this change,” noted John Belle, senior director of Commercial and Small Business Sales at Symantec. “The Commercial business will be all non-named accounts, and the named account population will shrink. We are taking them out of the legacy enterprise and into the commercial space, and it has been made clear it’s a partner-led space. So everything we are doing from sales organization, from sales compensation from marketing and programmatic perspective will be aligned around our partners.”
He added that Symantec is working to drive engagement much earlier in the sales cycle. “Instead of having the partner and Symantec meet in the procurement office, we will meet further downstream to meet with customers to discuss their business, our ideas for meeting those needs, and the products and services to enable that,” he said.
Symantec 4.0 is early days, for sure, but the changes seem righteous enough. Whether those changes equal more sales for channel partners remains to be seen, but kudos to Symantec for realizing change was necessary to survive and thrive. In some cases, that’s half the battle.