Symantec partners say that the recent launch of an SMB advisory council is a step in the right direction to establish communication, but the company has a long way to go before the list of SMB needs are fully addressed.
Symantec's new 20–member SMB advisory council, which held its first meeting in June, is comprised of solution providers representing small companies or distributors with a small business focus, as well as large account resellers than have an SMB initiative, executives said.
Randy Cochran, Symantec vice president of North American channel sales, said that the executive team decided to compile an SMB advisory council in response to partners who amped up requests for the company to address issues specific to their needs -- issues that were often distinct from those of enterprise and even midsize partners.
In light of the fact that SMBs comprises the vast majority of businesses, the space was "not a one-size-fits-all market," Cochran said.
"When we've gone to events like XChange, when we talked to partners, it became pretty clear to us that the SMB space has its unique issues," Cochran said. "Why not get a bunch of them together and ask them what they want? There was a little bit of that already, asking for it in a roundabout ways."
SMB partners contend that the advisory council was a step in the right direction in terms of communication, and indicated that company channel administration is trying to listen.
"It's good news to hear that they're putting together an advisory council," said Daniel Duffy, CEO of Fresno, Calif.-based Valley Network Solutions. "They definitely could use some more insight from SMB insider partners."
The initiative comes as an about face following a relatively uncommunicative past, when SMB needs -- especially those from the Midwest and less populous geographies -- seemed to fall on deaf ears, partners said.
Looking ahead, Darrel Bowman, CEO of Tacoma, Wash.-based MyNetworkCompany.com said that he hopes that Symantec will consider feedback from a wide swath of partners from numerous geographic regions, as opposed to relying on a centrally focused advisory team from the East Coast or larger metropolitan areas, adding that
"Making sure those smaller partners have a voice. This is something I think is important for all partners. It disturbs me when they make delineations between what one partner can provide and another partner can provide," Bowman said, adding that "the Pacific Northwest gets left out quite a lot."
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