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Symantec partner program continues to develop in wake of company split

Symantec's brand-new North American channel chief gives his views on the recent company changes as the vendor continues to roll out features of its overhauled partner program.

About 24 months ago, Symantec Corp. started down a path to overhaul its partner program, and on Oct. 6, the new program was officially launched. On Monday, Symantec unleashed the Financial Benefits Portal, which enables partners to manage their benefits in the new Symantec Partner Program. And Rick Kramer, vice president of North American channel sales, gave his perspective on partner reaction to the new program and to last month's news that Symantec will split itself into two companies.

The Financial Benefits Portal is where partners go to monitor their progress toward achieving revenue targets associated with the Symantec Growth Accelerator Rebate and Renewals Performance Rebate benefits, according to the company. Partners are also able to initiate and submit proposals for access to their Symantec Partner Development Fund through the portal.

The Symantec Renewals Performance Rebate is a reward of 2% on a customer's repeat business with Symantec. The vendor's Growth Accelerator Rebate defines how partners can earn a rebate as high as 8% by achieving set quarterly and annual growth targets.

According to Kramer, who officially became Symantec's North American channel chief on Oct. 23, the company got good feedback on the new partner program from participants at Symantec Partner Engage 2014 held last month. About 280 partners attended the event, he noted.

Symantec reported that it has thousands of North American partners who are at various stages of entry into the new Symantec Partner Program.

"The new partner program is a flexible platform that allows partners to decide how much investment they want to make with Symantec, and then Symantec makes investment with them," Kramer said. He noted that hundreds of the company's high-end and more committed partners are already along the way of transitioning.

"Our new program is more designed toward two-way accountability and commitment to Symantec and our commitment to them," Kramer said. The new program has 12 new competencies so partners get to choose where they want to invest, he added.

Our new program is more designed toward two-way accountability and commitment to Symantec and our commitment to them.
Rick Kramervice president of North American channel sales, Symantec

At a time when Symantec has plans to split its business into two separate companies along product lines -- information management and information security -- the North American channel chief stated that looking at the partner program of the future, some of the competencies are built upon technologies that map to either information management or information security.

Kramer said that partners at the company's Partner Engage conference were enthusiastic about the company split, which is expected to be complete by the end of December 2015.

"Symantec partners technically invested in one side of Symantec's business or the other, and those who opportunistically invest in a second line of business … see more upsides in the nimbleness that Symantec will have as two companies rather than as one," he said.

Partners invested in both sides of Symantec's business expressed a similar sentiment, he noted. "These companies already deal with multiple vendors today so engagement isn't a big issue. What is important is to make sure that the focus of the [new] companies is going in the right direction, that we reduce operational complexity and that we're bringing new offerings to market that customers are looking for," Kramer said.

While many details of the split have yet to emerge, Symantec did tell partners that it would preserve their investments as they and Symantec move forward -- and it's business as usual for the foreseeable future.

When the time comes to create separate partner programs, Kramer noted that the current partner program is flexible enough to be easily split into two, with some additional work required to optimize the partner programs for each separate business.

As far as how partners will deal with internal Symantec partner contacts as the company splits into two, Kramer said that the Symantec field force is already split along product lines. That change happened 12-18 months ago with the restructuring effort that went on at the company alongside the Symantec 4.0 strategy rollout.

What are the new North American channel chief's top three concerns?

We need to "align with our company's goals and [make] sure we deliver with our partners on our goals over the next 12 months; [put] a big focus on pipeline -- anytime you do have announcements such as the splitting of a company, you want to make sure that you can sustain a healthy business over the long haul; and [make] sure that we have close communication with all of our partners and our organization as a whole," said Kramer, who added that communication is key in times of transition.

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What are the most important changes to the new Symantec Partner Program?
The varied levels of enrollment options, which means no more excess spending for services that are not needed for some companies.