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Symantec CEO Reveals Long-Awaited Turnaround Plan

Six months after ousting Enrique Salem as CEO of Symantec and replacing him with Chairman Steve Bennett, the company last week revealed plans for a reboot, which includes plans to consolidate its management, reduce overhead and re-organize into 10 business areas. Bennett, the former CEO of software maker Intuit and onetime GE executive, outlined how he plans to remake the company with a plan called Symantec 4.0.

The biggest news around Symantec 4.0 is the company doesn't plan to shed any key assets as many had thought he might do. When Bennett first stepped into the CEO seat, analysts were wondering whether it would spin off Veritas, which Symantec acquired in 2004 for $13.5 billion and was viewed as the root of the company's problems. While it became clear he wasn't going to shed the company's data protection business, there were rumors on the street Bennett might spin off or sell Altiris, which turned out to be untrue.

During a two-hour live analyst event that was Webcast, Bennett said Symantec 4.0 centers around adding more value to all of its product lines and re-aligning R&D to allow technologies and intellectual property developed for one group or product to be shared and utilized cross products when it makes sense. The company has historically developed technology in siloes.

Francis de Souza, Symantec's group president for enterprise products and Services shared an example of how Symantec is putting this new cross functional technology sharing into practice. The company has added File system technology developed by Symantec's Storage and Availability Management (SAMG) to its Data Loss Prevention and security offerings.

"What that technology allows us to do is to actually understand who's been accessing important files in your environment, again in SAMG technology in a security context," de Souza explained, adding Symantec is also looking to deploy it into its integrated backup and recovery software.

"We believe that allows us to set a new bar in the scalability of our integrated backup offering." he added. "The idea though is that instead of doing this as one-off integration between products, we'll focus on creating centers of excellence and use those technologies across our portfolio in a lot of cases to solve new unmet customer needs. And this isn't just an internal concept. We're going to take these centers of technology and look to leverage them through partners."

To that last point, he emphasized that Symantec has no plans to get into the network security business. "We have this tremendous Data Loss Prevention [DLP] technology that's actually content-aware," he said. "So more than knowing what application you're using, we can tell you what the content is. It may make sense to leverage that technology through a partner ecosystem to go to the next next-generation of network security."

Symantec 4.0 will also involve the centralizing of various functions. Symantec has made numerous acquisitions over the years but the companies were never properly integrated. Noting Symantec has copious point solutions, he believes the company has never integrated them across product lines and groups to add value. The company is also looking to improve what it admitted was poor rate of product renewals. To address that, Symantec is creating a team to address that company-wide.

While Symantec has struggled to successfully integrate Veritas, suggestions the company should divest it never made sense to me. Data protection and security should work hand-in-hand. Symantec is a popular company among Redmond magazine readers. In the publication's Third Party Readers Choice Awards, you'll see 26 products were voted came in first, second or third place, among various categories including security, IT asset management and backup and recovery. Seven products came in first place.

That to me says Symantec is one of your key software providers. How do you feel about Bennett's plan to make it a better company to do business with? Feel free to comment below or drop me a line at jschwartz@1105media.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/28/2013 at 1:14 PM


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