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Interview: Symantec unveils new channel strategy

Interview: Symantec unveils new channel strategy

Symantec’s Klasie Holtzhausen on the company's plans heading into 2014.

Symantec's Senior Director - Pacific Channel Sales, Klasie Holtzhausen

Symantec's Senior Director - Pacific Channel Sales, Klasie Holtzhausen

As part of its worldwide reorganisation under CEO, Steve Bennett, Symantec will focus on the channel. Senior director Pacific channel sales, Klasie Holtzhausen, sat down with ARN to discuss the company’s new channel strategy in Australia, and the company’s plans heading into 2014.

Symantec has moved to a ‘channel first’ strategy globally, why?

KH: Steve Bennett, our CEO, did a world tour to gather feedback from customers and partners. Based on that feedback he realised that Symantec needs to change.

We weren’t optimising our investments, weren’t necessarily achieving the growth we wanted to achieve as an organisation. We just weren’t as effective as we needed to be. Our partners told us that they really needed more consistency and more predictability when it comes to planning for their profits when engaging with Symantec as part of their go to market strategy.

That is a transformation across our entire organisation, to create an organisation that is really passionate about the channel and really understands the value that the channel brings to the table.

We’ve announced to the market globally that we will deliver 5 per cent organic growth, and an operating margin of 30 per cent between the financial years of 2015 and 2017.

So how will this affect Australian operations?

It is about how we engage with partners locally to form more strategic partnerships to enable them to be more successful at enabling Symantec’s solutions to the market.

It also gives us an opportunity to sit down with them in a collaborative way and combine our objectives. To decide what their objectives are, what ours are and get some alignment and build a go to market strategy together. To ensure we are enabling them to be successful, by leveraging common assets.

Symantec will now be dropping its product solutions count from 150 to just 10. Why is that?

We realised that we were a product company that really needed to evolve into a solutions based company.

We had some 150 products, and we needed to refine that down to 10 solution offerings, to make it easier for our partner and customers to get that value. Because we are doing some of that integration for them already. So that’s a big, big change for us.

So that will take quite some involvement as that integration happens over the next two years.

So how will that change Symantec’s day-to-day operations in Australia?

We’ve basically built a commercial team that will exclusively work with the Channel and do all their business with the channel.

I’ve also brought in some additional channel resources, so part of our new strategy is to focus very deeply on those partners that have made the investment in Symantec, those that demonstrate the skills and capabilities of Symantec, and that are driving growth for our business.

So as part of this initiative we’ve really looked at our products, and the complexity of the products and where the opportunities are for our partners to put certain solutions to certain parts of the market.

We have just brought another sales manager into the channel team, Chad Cleevely. He has a very strong IP around addressing the broader channel market. He’s already brought a couple of new ideas to the table. About how we work and help the channel.

Will Symantec be looking to cull or add partners to the programme?

It’s not really about culling partners or introducing new partners. It’s about how we become more efficient, more effective and more strategic with our existing partners. But I’m not saying we won’t bring on new partners in the future.

You’re also looking at reducing the company’s routes to market?

It has to sometimes be confusing for partners to figure out where they fit into the Symantec fold. What we’ve tried to do is simplify that, by reducing the different routes to market from about 40 plus to around eight.

And not necessarily will all of those eight be relevant to Australia. For example, the traditional OEM stuff generally occurs in countries where the manufacturing happens, so Asia and US. But some of the traditional models, like solution providers, access resellers, MSPs and systems integrators are key to us as routes to market in Australia.

So how will your partners benefit from these changes?

As part of the new Channel strategy, we will actually have a new partner programme, but we’re not disclosing any more information until the new year. We’re still trying to work out the ins and outs of that. The focus of that is really looking at rewarding partners for bringing us new business, rewarding partners for helping us grow our business, rewarding partners that are demonstrating the skills and capabilities around our solution set, and fourth point is to reward partners for successful customer engagements.

We’ve put a big emphasis on enablement now. We are running our own internal sales boot camp, it’s important for our partners to get the same robust training that we are giving our own people. The second point with these sales boot camps is that they are customised to suit those with the right skills to suit our partners.

We’ve also launched a bunch of tech nights through distribution. We’ve got an extensive partner set, some of our distributions there’s a demand for us to share more with our partners about how we can be more successful, what products are coming down the line – so the tech guys are very much geared towards that. We’ve run two this week and we’ve already had a great response to that.

So how has the market responded to these changes?

They’re very excited to hear that a big part of our growth strategy is based on the channel. They’re also excited to hear about how we’re changing the organisation internally to be more passionate about the channel and driving more proactive and strategic investment and engagement. For us it’s not just about driving short term success, it’s more about building a successful sustainable business for the future.

It’s a very exciting time for us and it’s a very exciting time for the channel. We are very serious about growing our business through the channel.

Allan Swann is a Senior Editor at IDG Communications Australia. Follow Allan on Twitter at @allanswann.

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Tags symantecKlasie HoltzhausenSteve Bennet

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