Leigh Costin, Regional Product Manager, Symantec

What are your strategies for the Indian market?
Our strategy is to build products with services built around them. We have already entered into contracts with HCL and Zenith to market the Norton AntiVirus Gold Edition. We are also talking to ISPs for our enterprise products.


What strengths do you see in Indian channels?

Indian channels are quick and advanced. They know their customers very well. Most of them have a regional focus. In fact, some resellers almost monopolize certain regions. I’ve not seen this happening in any other part of the world. They look after implementation services, post sales, maintenance and update services. We have organized seminars and training sessions for their benefit. Besides this, training is conducted every quarter for all authorized dealers. Of course, our technical support is available to all our customers.

Indian channels are quick and advanced. They know their customers very well and have a clear regional focus.


What weaknesses do you find in your channel partners?

I can’t think of any weaknesses, though implementation can sometimes be a bit difficult. SIs may not have the experience of a systems integrator in Australia. In the last couple of years, the number of PCs has gone up phenomenally and our resellers seem to be coping very well with the situation.


McAfee has partnered with Hotmail. Have you planned any such partnerships in India?

We have a broad approach to content security. We have already partnered with Inktomi internationally. We want to see that people get the best out of the Internet. We have ‘I-Gear’ which is a URL filter. We have products for desktop, file server e-mail security and anti-virus scanning. We also have products for corporate e-mail systems and Internet gateway products.


Are you launching all these products in India?

Right now, ISPs in India are in a very acquisitive mood. Last year, this was the scene in Australia. Soon Indian ISPs are going to think in terms of adding value. So by next year, we can expect Indian ISPs to go in for these solutions. At present, we sell Norton AntiVirus, Norton SystemWorks, WinFax Pro, Norton Utilities and Norton CleanSweep in India. These products will provide a safe and reliable computing environment to Indian consumers. We will soon be introducing products like Norton Internet Security, NAV Firewalls for Web Security and a new version of NAV for Notes for e-mail security. We also have vulnerability assessment and intrusion detection products. All our products are relevant for e-commerce.


What about Indian channel partners?

We have 25 value-added resellers, besides 18 Symantec partners all over the country. We plan to expand this number. Last quarter, we appointed three new channel partners. Our sole distributor at the moment is Tech Pacific through whom we reach out to 4,000 resellers.

We have already entered into contracts with HCL and Zenith to market the Norton AntiVirus Gold Edition here.


What promotional schemes are you planning in the coming days?

We usually begin by building awareness. Our strategy is not different in India either. We do a few promotions for customer products. Symantec also does direct marketing along with its resellers. We also undertake joint marketing campaigns. Our resellers also have their own local marketing campaigns. We will also participate in events like trade fairs and exhibitions.

Do you have anything to tell channel partners about shrinking margins?
As far as I know, Indian resellers enjoy the highest margins in the entire Asia-Pacific region. That is what I learnt when I interacted with my counterparts there. Our resellers are excellent businessmen. In fact, shrinking margins will make them even better businessmen. But if you look at new products, margins are relatively higher. For instance, our firewall products fetch very high margins.

What are the qualities that you look for while choosing channel partners?
We choose channel partners very carefully. We find out what he wants to do and whether he has the infrastructure and technical skills. Besides being financially sound, he should also be able to synergize. We also look at his knowledge of the market and his strengths. We choose our channel partners only when we are convinced about his or her compatibility.

What is the kind of after sales support you have in place?
For enterprise products, updates are available for a year. Upgrade insurance is to the tune of 20 percent to 25 percent. For customers, technical support is absolutely free.

Where do you see growth coming from when e-commerce becomes popular?
The biggest growth will come from services. Channels are not going to disappear. Licensing of software may go online — we’re talking of electronic licensing, which can be expected to become a very simple process. ASPs will increasingly rent out software. As of now, our products are designed to make it attractive to VARs. In three to four years, the services-to-product ratio will be almost 3:1. So there is no reason why channel partners should be worried.

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