Expect 2014 To Be Another Transition Year For Symantec, Says CEO

Symantec CEO Steve Bennett told financial analysts to expect another year of transition at the security vendor, following the 5 percent fall in its quarterly revenue reported on Wednesday.

Bennett said the fall in revenue was due to changes to the company's sales strategy and its new unified product reorganization. Symantec's revenue fell to $1.71 billion in the third quarter from $1.79 billion a year earlier. The company has maintained that 2014 would be a transition year, Bennett said.

"As I look back over the past 12 months, we are exactly where I expected to be at this stage of our three- to five-year transformation," Bennet said. "We are executing against our long-term vision and making short-term progress as expected."

[Related: Symantec Partially Withdraws From Managed Services Business]

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He told investors that a more comprehensive product strategy will be shared with customers and partners at the company's Vision user conference to be held in Las Vegas in early May. The goal is to combine its point products in cloud security, mobile and data loss prevention into better integrated offerings and partnerships with networking security vendors, Bennett said.

Symantec is reinventing itself at a time when the market focus is shifting away from endpoint security software vendors to network security platforms, security analysts tell CRN. Other competitors, mainly McAfee (now called Intel Security) have broader security portfolios with both endpoint and network security capabilities. Bennett said his firm is establishing partnerships with next-generation firewall makers to more tightly integrate the appliances with Symantec Endpoint Protection.

"This initiative is an industry first and will provide a new set of enhanced, advanced threat-detection capabilities that will enable our customers to automatically prioritize and provide comprehensive contextual intelligence for incidents based on a correlation between network-based advanced threat detection, endpoint security and Symantec’s Global Intelligence Network," Bennett said.

The company also is betting heavily on mobile security and privacy products. Bennett pointed to the recent launch of the latest version of Mobile App Center, formerly Nukona, for mobile device and mobile application management. The Symantec Sealed program, which is part of the release, gives participating iOS and Android app developers a way to wrap mobile apps with security policies supported by Symantec. Norton Zone also was released for consumers in a bid to better secure file sharing between home and work devices.

But in its third-quarter 2014 results, shared with investors on Wednesday, the company shows revenue continuing to decline year-over-year across the entire business. Symantec reported a 4 percent decline in revenue from its protection business, made up of its Norton antivirus, data loss prevention and other endpoint security products. It represents approximately 42 percent of total revenue. It posted a 6 percent fall in revenue from its information management unit, made up of its NetBackup and recovery products, which accounts for about 39 percent of overall revenue. License revenue declined 27 percent year-over-year, while content, maintenance and subscription revenue was flat, Symantec said.

NEXT: Partners See Changes, New Sales Teams

Part of the Symantec turnaround includes a complete change to the company's direct sales force. The sales organization was split into renewals and business teams, and their roles changed to focus on net new business with a specialization of selling into information management or information security, Bennett said. The company also launched a centrally managed renewals team.

The go-to-market strategy also includes investing in acquiring customers directly to fuel sales of its Norton endpoint security suite, Bennet said. The company is launching Norton-branded small-business software, aiming at businesses of under 25 or 30 seats, he said.

"I think the opportunity for us is to take a lot of money that we were investing in that channel and acquire customers directly and build a digital first marketing direct capability," he said.

Partners tell CRN that they are experiencing disruption in the marketplace as Symantec executes on its transition plans. Uncertainty in the marketplace has resulted in less-than-stellar deals in 2013, said Jason Livingston, CEO of Bloomington, Minn.-based Intuitive Technology Group, a Symantec Platinum partner. Livingston remains optimistic for 2014 and said Symantec has been communicating its strategy changes throughout the process.

"With all the changes in management and changes in the account teams, there was a getting-to-know-you period again," Livingston told CRN. "A lot of the strategy is still under development, but for partners that chose to engage with those teams, it has been a collaborative process."

Bennett also said to expect a series of about $200 million in acquisitions over the next couple of quarters of technology and engineering teams. The acquisitions will be aimed at integration of Symantec point products, he said. "We’re buying engineers and technology to help us go faster as opposed to buying revenue," Bennett said.