New Symantec Execs To Streamline Departments

The company appointed Enrique Salem as the new chief operating officer and Gregory Hughes as an interim chief strategy officer.

Overall, Symantec executives argue that the addition of new chiefs and other significant restructuring will ultimately help streamline operations, drive business synergies and restore competitive margins. Specifically, they assert that Symantec is reverting to an operating model similar to that which was in place pre-Veritas, and which was significantly restructured with the acquisition of the storage company in 2005.

"We put in place a post-Veritas a business unit model, candidly optimizing strategy at the business level, not necessarily at the company level," said John Thompson, Symantec chief executive officer. "It became more apparent to me that we needed a different optimization point. We're moving back to an operating model similar to pre-Veritas, where there was a chief operating officer."

"I think this will produce better results long term," Thompson added.

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That model begins with getting on the same page. For starters, the new officers hope to realign company priorities -- maintaining that the reorganization will open new communication channels that will allow them to do so.

Salem said that in the short term, he hopes to impose a "common set of metrics as an executive team," planning to consistently review the top two or three goals daily. Salem also plans to initiate a two-fold effort to aggressively measure customer satisfaction while simultaneously monitoring the company from a market share perspective.

"We have an opportunity to have a common set of priorities," said Salem. "We can hopefully drive a lot faster and crisper execution by just making sure the company is aligned around a clear set of business priorities."

Furthering the company's goal to streamline its resources are plans to integrate multiple business services, which include consulting, asset and managed security services, and education, into the company's IT department headed by J. David Thompson. Executives maintain that this integrated, umbrella-approach will ultimately allow the company to optimize investments in IT-related services, for both internal and external use.

"It would be economically more viable to leverage everything in one room instead of having two separate teams," said Thompson, adding, "This is not a unique move but it's certainly new to the Symantec operation."

Executives denied that the job shifts and reorganization are a precursor to future acquisitions, arguing instead that they will enable specific departments to focus on their own core strengths in the field, which, they said, will better serve both customers and channel partners.

Yet, despite rosy outlooks, Symantec is still reeling from a year riddled with instability. The downward spiral began when the company combined IT infrastructure in a $10.25 billion deal for storage giant Veritas in July 2005. The merger was followed closely by plummeting stocks and subsequent cost cutting measures, which included a 5 percent layoff of its global personnel in March and layoffs of other channel executives fourth quarter 2007.

However, at least one Symantec partner remains optimistic about the wave of internal restructuring within the company, noting that it has recovered from significant changes throughout 2007.

"Overall, I think they've been really trying to do the right thing, but as they grow they experience growing pains," said David Sockol, chief executive officer of Emagined Security, based in Santa Clara, Calif. "I think that whenever you take two massive organizations and put them together, you have to go through a cleanup, so of course it's going to hurt for five minutes but in the long term its probably going to be the right move."

Symantec executives fell short of openly stating that the company would experience more internal restructuring in the upcoming year, although Salem asserted that "There's a lot of value having people sitting in different chairs. It gives you a lot of perspective."

Thompson also echoed that job rotation within a company was common and often essential to growth. "I think the best run companies in the world make sure that their leaders have a variety of experiences so they can be effective when they reach their ultimate potential," he said. "You don't want change just for the sake of change."