Where are the biggest opportunities for Symantec locally?
CS: We're spending a lot of money at the moment enabling the channel to understand not just the products, but the broader Symantec Solutions taxonomy. We've just done an extensive first round of education to help partners understand the automation, software and processes, about minimising IT risk and maximising performance. Customers don't want to buy products - they want us to solve their business problems.
What is your short-term focus?
CS: A priority right now is continuing to build out our training investment. We are also building out the size of our mid-market business and have a number of investments in play to grow that team and service that part of the channel, because that is a critical area of growth. We're also starting to invest in enabling the channel to be able to continue to drive consulting revenue and service delivery. We've got to the point now where we need to invest as much in the service delivery as we have in helping them sell our products.
SM: We are training nearly 1000 channel partners a quarter. About 60 per cent of our training is product; the other 40 per cent is broader picture and solutions, and ease of doing business.
Are you looking at partner specialisations?
SM: We are investing more into recognising partner specialisations. Because there is more value demanded by the customer to make the technology work optimally in their business, there's definitely a bigger requirement for specialisation. We have seen some good results in the archiving space where we have gone to a sub-set of partners and worked with them as archiving specialists across the country.
What other initiatives is Symantec working on?
CS: We recently announced a child safety initiative called Project Watchdog. There are so many things targeting financial gain - phishing, spammers, online fraud - but the reality is 96 per cent of attacks today are on home and individual users because they don't have the same resources available to protect themselves. Even more of a concern is protecting children on the Internet. We need to agree on usage policies and the collaborative process, not just technology.
Online crime and the underground economy continue to present challenges for customers. It's a multi-billion dollar industry and the anonymity the Internet provides is going to open up opportunities for the channel to educate those customers.