Symantec CEO To Skeptics: Don't Count Us Out

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Symantec is just past the one-year point in its Symantec 4.0 overhaul and is readying new product road maps and showing how it plans to integrate the various point products in its portfolio, said CEO Steve Bennett in an interview with CRN. Sweeping internal changes last year impacted 90 percent of the company's sales force and prompted Bennett to warn financial investors that 2014 would be another major transition year.

"Our strategy for growth was just to keep buying stuff and not really add any value to the customers with these acquisitions," Bennett said. "We dug ourselves a bit of a hole last year making these changes and, because of the nature of bookings vs. billings, it takes awhile when we get our new bookings to convert that into revenue."

Bennett, who took the helm of Symantec 18 months ago, said the internal restructuring combined with a complete product strategy overhaul will get the company out of a rut in which it acquired security firms and then ran them as independent solutions. The company's channel strategy also was failing, as it let partners sell the entire portfolio, regardless of their niche, client base and geography, Bennett said.

"We are moving from 60,000 partners globally where everybody sells everything to a much more tiered structure based on partner capability, commitment to Symantec and aspirations for growth," he said. "This is a company that has tremendous assets but it is a big ship to turn, and the feedback we're getting from customers is that we're on the right track and we hope you're successful."

Symantec took the wraps off some of its channel changes in November, revealing that it was turning over many of its direct-touch named accounts to its most coveted channel partners. The company has gone from 28 partner programs down to eight channels to market and four partner programs, Bennett said.

The company also is making multimillion-dollar investments into large systems integrators and regional VARs, funding head count and marketing activities with the goal of fueling business. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the company's sales force has been retrained and is out in the field and incented to drive sales through a list of 100 or so partners.

"The program is very focused on what is the right route to market or the right channel for all of our different offerings," Bennett said. "We're going to have much more of a thoughtful franchising program as opposed to everybody sells everything."

NEXT: New Product Road Maps

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