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Symantec: We've lopped off half our heads, but look how well we're doing now

Only 76 of 'top 146' senior officers remain, but revenues are up

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What's the plan to stop the rot?

Bennett's plan for Symantec has three main elements:

  1. Managing point solutions in a strategic way (and avoiding Backup Exec-like screw-ups, we think) and allocating resources to them based on market opportunity.
  2. "New integrated offerings that solve higher order, higher value customer problems. This will change the basis of competition in a way that is positive for us and delivers real value for our customers."
  3. Integrating Symantec's capabilities with selected other firms, with network security providers being an example of this large opportunity. Bennett said: "We are in advanced discussions with network security partners, including running proof-of-concepts with selected beta customers … Stay tuned for future announcements."

He's also trying to turn the sales force around with "New roles for our sales force as hunters versus farmers and changing their incentives to be paid on new business. We're also beginning implementation of the change from a general sales force to one where the vast majority either [sell] information security or information management solutions … we are in the process of retooling our sales incentives over time to pay on profit and revenue, but that won't affect us until fiscal year '15."

Beer said: "In the [next] September quarter, we'll be implementing our new sales organisation structure, territories and compensation plan."

That structure will include a separate renewals team - the farmers, we suppose - farming existing customer accounts.

Bennett added this gem about senior management changes in the past year:

We had our officers' meeting where we got the top 140 people in the company together a couple of weeks ago. I will tell you, the people that were here before and are still here are different people than they were a year ago, in a positive sense...

I shared an interesting statistic with the officers that investors probably should see, too. Of the top 12 people that were running the company a year ago, 7 are no longer with the company. And our officer population, which was 146, I think, a year ago, 70 are no longer with the company. So we've had quite a significant leadership transition.

He mentioned a new chief marketing officer was starting soon: "That is a really, really key hire for us and we've got really a spectacular individual."

All Things Digital says it's Manny Kostas, an ex-senior veep for marketing and strategy at HP/

The ever-busy Bennett talked about rejigging the channel strategy too:

Our strategy in the past was everybody sells everything, that was our channel strategy. And so we're going to be much more strategic, and I think one of the areas we're focusing a lot on is service providers, whether they'd be telcos or whether they'd be some of the hosted service providers and how do we have right-for-me offerings and value propositions for these different channels and have a much more strategic look. And so I think it's a big opportunity for us and stay tuned for some additional insight from us as we firm that up.

The good ship Symantec is trying to turn itself around with massive changes in its top leadership and a root and branch reform of the sales infrastructure. If revenues and profits grow then Bennett will be a hero. If they don't then he'll have to walk the plank, prodded by the swords of disappointed investors. Those swords are firmly in their scabbards, for now. ®

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