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Symantec executive urges partners to talk about and sell solutions differently

First-ever Storage and Security SMB survey indicates more security awareness and education is needed

After releasing the Canadian results of its first global Symantec Storage and Security Small and Mid-sized Business (SMB) survey, Michael Murphy, vice-president and general manager of Symantec Canada, is now urging channel partners to talk about and sell solutions differently to SMB customers.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) by Applied Research in February 2009, and targeted SMBs ranging from 10 to 500 employees. Survey participants spanned across 17 countries and totalled 1,425 respondents. Of those, 200 respondents came from Canada, with a variety of vertical sector industries being represented.

Murphy said this survey is the first time Symantec focused solely on SMBs.

“This survey was done because there are many surveys that target larger organizations and not many focus on this market segment,” Murphy said. “We don’t want to make assumptions about what SMBs are doing, so we did the survey to understand and make recommendations based on data.”

The survey found that even though 94 per cent, or nine out of 10 Canadian SMBs, understand the importance of protecting their data, many of them fail to use basic security solutions.

There are a number of reasons why this is happening, Murphy said. In many cases, SMBs don’t have the time, money, resources and expertise that many larger organizations have. According to the survey, 47 per cent of Canadian SMBs said they lacked an adequate budget for IT security. The survey also found the median IT budget for these companies regarding their storage and security spend was only $6,000 a year.

In order for the channel to get around these issues, Murphy said it’s important partners realize they need to talk about and sell solutions differently to SMB customers.

“There’s an opportunity for partners to take a small business environment that may be fragmented with multiple solutions from multiple vendors and consolidate that to a single vendor’s solutions and suite offerings,” Murphy said.

It’s especially important for SMBs to realize that their legacy security protection mechanisms often aren’t sufficient to deal with today’s risks and threats.

“The same old same old isn’t going to get things done,” he said. “Things need to change and partners need to increase their skills and knowledge to be able to become those trusted advisors to SMBs. There’s an opportunity for partners to also focus and specialize on this space too.”

Just last month, Symantec announced new Protection Suites and its new Endpoint Protection Suite for small businesses. The Symantec Protection Suite Small Business Edition is one of the solutions included in this lineup, which targets organizations between 10 and 99 employees and is designed to be easy to use and maintain.

Still, more awareness and education is needed both on the channel and customer side, Murphy said. Being informed and keeping up to date with current trends, technologies, threats and risks will help to improve a business’ and partner’s stance in the IT industry.

As a starting point for partners to get conversations flowing with SMB customers, Murphy suggests asking questions such as, “How are you managing your storage and security today?” And “How would you assess and how do you think you’re doing today?”