Symantec CEO Bennett: 5 Changes Critical To The Turnaround

Symantec Transition Continues

Symantec set its course at the beginning of 2013 when CEO Steve Bennett unveiled Symantec 4.0, a new approach that included major internal changes, a new go-to-market strategy and more tightly integrated product offerings. With the transition in its second year, many of the internal changes have taken place. The company is now focusing on sales execution and the unveiling of a product road map that brings its loose set of point products together to address mobility, data security and IT data management issues. Bennett told CRN the company is making significant progress and identified five areas that should spur growth in 2015.

Channel Strategy Was Wrong

Partners were encouraged to sell the entire portfolio, regardless of their niche, client base and skill set, Bennett said. The strategy resulted in Symantec spending 41 percent of its revenue on marketing and sales initiatives, compared with an industry norm of 21 percent to 28 percent, Bennett said. It was a pattern that couldn't sustain consistent growth. A new channel structure will be based on partner capability, commitment to Symantec and aspirations for growth, he said.

Symantec Makes Big Bet

The company is relying on a group of about 100 or so partners in the U.S., incentivizing sales reps to bring deals through the channel. Meanwhile, channel executives are spending millions on funding head count, marketing and training at large systems integrators. "Our channel and field sales teams used to be separate organizations that were in competition with each other. Now we’re saying it’s one team," Bennett said. "The program is very focused on what is the right route to market or the right channel for all of our different offerings."

Proper Turnaround Takes Time

A complete turnaround at a $7 billion company doesn't happen overnight, Bennett said. With at least 90 percent of the sales force impacted by the internal changes, it will take time to ramp up revenue and net new licenses. "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," Bennett said.

Product Road Maps Due Shortly

Symantec plans to unveil its product road maps more broadly beginning with investors later this year. It has been sharing some details with certain partners and analysts and receiving positive feedback, Bennett said. Despite high-level executive departures, including the company's longtime enterprise products executive Francis deSouza, the company is creating integrated product offerings around mobility, information security and information management.

Network Security Partnerships, Not Acquisition

A key part of growth for some Symantec competitors is to integrate their endpoint and network security platforms. But Symantec got out of the network security market a few years ago and has no plans to acquire its way back in, Bennett said. Instead, the approach is to partner with Cisco and other network security vendors. The company's security point solutions will be integrated into multitier, multilayer, integrated and automated product sets, Bennett said. "[Partners are] telling us they don’t need us to sell them every appliance in the kitchen, they need us to help them to get the whole kitchen working together," he said.