Symantec's Vision

Kevin Isaac, Symantec’s main man in the Middle East, talks strategy during the security and storage software giant’s successful Vision event, which attracted hundreds of partners and end-users from across the region keen to find out more about the vendor’s roadmap.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  July 1, 2006

|~|kisaacii200.jpg|~|Kevin Isaac, regional director at Symantec MENA|~|Kevin Isaac, Symantec’s main man in the Middle East, talks strategy during the security and storage software giant’s successful Vision event, which attracted hundreds of partners and end-users from across the region keen to find out more about the vendor’s roadmap.

CME: There seems to be a very good turnout at Vision today. What’s your opinion?

KI: There were about 1,200 people that registered for Symantec Vision and this number includes a large contingent of channel partners. All of the partners that I spoke to in the run-up to the event said that they were attending personally or alternatively sending someone from their team. In terms of numbers, the event has exceeded our expectations but I was always confident that it would be a success.

CME: Now that they are all here, what are the key messages that you are trying to get across?

KI: The main messages that we are trying to get across are centred on protection, infrastructure, information and interactions. I would have to say that interactions is the main one. We started at an infrastructure level and the rise of decentralised computing made information more important but now it is all about interactions — how instant messaging impacts business and how online banking interacts with other systems for example. This all plays out well in terms of the discussion that we want to have about security and availability. I think Symantec’s key message is that we are the only vendor that can do this end-to-end; and the only vendor that can achieve this in a heterogeneous hardware environment. That enables us to drive down cost for the customer and also improve their efficiency, which translates to greater profit.

CME: How important is it to have alliance partners and VADs here?

KI: Personally, I think it is cool. It is wonderful to have these relationships in place and that is what the whole market is about now. I think that by getting them involved in events such as this they become stakeholders in what we are trying to do as Symantec. That is where the real value lies and it is always rewarding to spend time with our valued partners.

CME: How are you innovating the rewards on offer to Symantec partners in the region?

KI: We are constantly innovating and in that respect we have teamed up with Air Miles to create a unique benefits programme for our channel. Basically, they can get an Air Miles card with the Symantec logo on either by converting their existing card or signing up for a new one. This rewards them for their commitment to Symantec. They log onto a website, register and track their sales with us and in the process earn rewards. It is something that I have wanted to do in the region for a long time. Because of the merger, because of the energy we now have in the team, we have been able to make it happen. It will be exciting to see how the channel responds to this.

CME: Is it ethically acceptable to reward an individual in a channel partner in this way?

KI: Absolutely, because at the end of the day everyone is an individual and it all comes down to people and it comes down to passion. If we can take these people and give them the recognition for what they do and inspire passion in them, it is a great way to show them just how much we appreciate their efforts.

CME: Agreed. But if I were an end-user I wouldn’t want to be forced to buy a Symantec solution just because the sales guy needed more miles for his next holiday. Especially if it was not the most suitable solution for my needs.

KI: They will also get air miles for attending training sessions as well. It is all about relationship, relationship, relationship. Symantec has always been known for its channel focus and its commitment to the channel. I don’t think you’ve seen anything yet. We want to win over our channel and delight them and make them feel very comfortable dealing with us. Trust and transparency — what we want to do is create models and value chains that give them real benefits in terms of what they do

CME: What is your message to Middle East partners not yet working with Symantec?

KI: Find something that you can do to bring value that doesn’t dilute what other people are already doing. Find something that is unique because that is what this market needs: specialisation. We focus on those people. Right now we are focusing on two types of resellers: the hybrid resellers prepared to move from security to availability or vice versa, and also the vertically-focused resellers prepared to go into specific areas like compliance, the data centre or e-mail archiving. I am really keen on those partners right now because they add real value in the market.||**||

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