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Symantec CEO on reorg: "our system is just broken"

Symantec president and CEO Steve Bennett outlines broad re-organization strategy

By , Network World
January 24, 2013 10:36 AM ET
Steve Bennett
Steve Bennett

Network World - Under the helm of new CEO Steve Bennett, Symantec late yesterday outlined a re-organization intended to lead to a leaner company and a new range of security and backup services and products, built primarily on internal research and development not acquisitions, within the next six to nine months.

In a presentation before Wall Street investment firm analysts, Bennett, who became head of Symantec last July, was candid in saying sales and marketing teams had been "high cost but didn't provide quality outcomes" and said lay-offs were coming there in a transition beginning right away that would primarily impact middle management. "Our system is just broken," he admitted later, saying it was time to fix it through a total re-organization of how Symantec sells and licenses products and services.

[BACKGROUND: Symantec shows off security research and development projects]

There would be a new emphasis on e-commerce capabilities and telesales in the future. There would be more effort to have Symantec security and backup products and services integrated into what telcos and ISPs do, and a focus on vertical markets with more customized offerings for small businesses and verticals markets. And Bennett said while Symantec continues to have an endpoint security business, there isn't going to be a big dividing line in terms of consumer and business anymore.

"We don't have a consumer business anymore," he declared, noting Janice Chaffin, head of Symantec's consumer unit, had effectively stepped down.

In other changes, Symantec has created a new "Office of the CEO" in which a small team of executives will make collective operational and functional decisions with Bennett. And Bennett, joined by some members of that team that included Francis deSouza as president of products and services, and Steve Gillett, COO, said Symantec envisions the creation of new lines of products and services in which it would be investing heavily there through research and development.

Symantec has great products, many of them gained through acquisitions, but could be doing a better job on integrating them and simplifying the way they're licensed, said Bennett. He promised a "revolution" in which Symantec will be re-designing products with an eye toward finding a way that customers can simply turn on functionality rather than acquiring another product.

In addition, Symantec will be focusing on offerings in 10 core areas: Mobile Workforce Productivity, Norton Protection, Norton Cloud, Information Security Services, Identity/Content-Aware Security Gateway, Data Center Security, Business Continuity, Integrated Backup, Cloud-based Information Management, and Object Storage Platform. Symantec is emphasizing that cloud-based services and mobile smartphone and tablet security and backup will be front and center. Bennett, who said he didn't envision additional inroads into "network security," said he and his team met with over 50 enterprise and government customers, and asked for specific advice from analysts, among others, before reaching the decision to do what was announced yesterday.

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