Symantec spells out its EMEA channel strategy

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Five routes to market

These days Symantec is a very different creature from the Symantec of yore. The days of submariner Gordon Eubanks, Michael Skok and the man with the tie – Peter Norton – are long gone and almost forgotten except to those like me who are long in the tooth.

I took time out to interview Paul Lyden, director of EMEA Channel Programmes, at its gleaming steel and glass redoubt in Reading.

Lyden said that the company is taking itself to market on five major themes – the threat landscape; explosion of data; the cloud; mobility and virtualisation.

“When we talk to our clients, that’s what we talk about,” he told ChannelBiz UK. “From a channel perspective, we’re still committed to driving [business] through our channels. A few years ago we had a broad strategy and we’ve started mapping our channel to those tends. As a business, we took a big and bold move to move our SMBs into its own strategic business.”

In the last two years, Symantec has asked its partners to specialise. “Three to four years ago, we re-examined the channel,” he said. It looked at margin erosion and also at how its partners were investing in Semantec. “In the UK we had in excess of 70 accreddited partners,” he said. “We’ve moved from 70 to 15 very technically skilled partners. We’ve eliminated margin competition.”

That’s true for the EMEA region too, Lyden said. “In EMEA we’ve gone from 3,000 accreditations to 900 specialisations. The feedback from partners is very positive and revenues have continued to grow year on year.”

Symantec’s biggest EMEA channel challenge is still sales people, Lyden said. Symantec wants to maximise sales opportunities for its channel partners, including generating partner leads, marketing investments and will do everything it can to accelerate their profitability.

Its channel is broad in EMEA. Insight is its biggest partner pan-EMEA, while it has strategic partners in Europe including Fujitsu, Dell, Accenture and Cap Gemini. It also has a number of specialist VARs including Computacenter, SCC, CSTL and DVVS. The last two are “real security experts”, Lyden said. “We’ve been careful to segment our partners.”

While Symantec has local distributors in every country, generally speaking its broadline disties are Ingram and Tech Data. Across EMEA, it has 83 distributors across 83 countries.

“From a channel point of view, SMB is 100 percent channel led,” he said. “We have a broad perspective in there.” The enterprise segment is where its VADs (value added distributors) play. That’s a two tier model of managed partners and disties managing sub tier specialists, Lyden added.

Lyden said that Symantec is serious about going to market with its channel. While it had some direct business three or so years ago, now it’s committed to pushing the vast majority of deals through its partners.

And Symantec will continue to make acquisitions. “At a company level, we’re making very targeted, very strategic acquisitions,” he said. That pattern is set to continue.

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