Symantec Promises Partners More Control And Less Complexity, But Some Wonder If It's Too Little, Too Late

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For other partners, the program changes, due to take full effect in October, and the promised product development efforts, are too little too late. There have been many promises over the past several years and not enough consistency and forward momentum, said Alex Moss, managing partner at Chicago-based consultancy Conventus. Moss said Conventus will continue to sell Symantec in the near term, but acknowledged he's looking to make new partnerships with vendors that develop innovative security products.

"You can't keep promising everyone the world, coming up short and expecting everyone to stick around," Moss said. "Sooner or later you've got to have something positive to show."
The company's direct sales force is also going through a round of regional sales training events that include local partners, said John Emard, senior director of North American channel operations and programs at Symantec. The goal is to give Symantec sales executives the ability to work positively with key partners in their territory, Emard said. Sales executives that fail to comply with the company's principles establishing rules of engagement will have compensation withheld and could be terminated, he said.

"We are going to live a culture of partner centricity across the organization" Emard said. "There's no ambiguity around how seriously we are taking this."
Set to soar under Symantec's program are large systems integrators tied to the company's data management, storage, backup and archiving business, said Kurt Klein, CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Computer Media Technologies. Klein said Computer Media Technologies is doing well selling Symantec NetBackup, its cloud-based disaster recovery product. He said the success of Symantec's channel program changes depend on how well they are executed.

"There has to be a real succinct message that the Symantec sales force work with expert partners," Klein said.


Symantec's Brown told financial analysts during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call that NetBackup was one of two bright spots for the company's 2014 fiscal year with revenue growth of 27 percent year over year. The other was mobile, which grew 77 percent year over year. In addition to heavily investing in the data storage business, Brown said data loss prevention, managed security services and business critical services also grew.

The two strategic priorities in Symantec's current fiscal year are unified information security and unified information management, said Stephen Gillett, executive vice president and chief operating officer. Gillett said the company would look to bridge the communication gap between specific products in its portfolio, creating a holistic platform for better visibility and faster and more significant protection.

For Brighton, Mich.-based Xcend Group, information security will be a significant growth area. The company also sells and manages Symantec’s Altiris IT management platform, but endpoint security is the challenge customers are trying to meet, said Ron Schoenherr, president and CEO of Xcend.

"Products like DLP and encryption will be hot growth areas," Schoenherr said. "We are bullish on the fact that the demand for those products will continue."

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