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IT Factor

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The “it” factor businesses need to succeed is no longer a mysterious element. It’s Information Technology.

Symantec owes its success to industry-leading products, such as like Veritas, Norton, Altiris, and Brightmail, and a deep understanding of customer needs.

Suzie Tan and Raymond Goh

More importantly, the company has leaders who have the “it” factor. A couple of them are Asia South Region Systems Engineering Director Raymond Goh and Country Manager for the Philippines Suzie Tan.

Both Goh and Tan understand that in today’s fast-paced, IT-run world, businesses are putting more emphasis on information rather than just the technology. Symantec keeps up with its clients by offering virtualization solutions that keep information managable and secure.

Goh, a Computer Science graduate, is very passionate about the industry. And it shows in what he does on hid free time. He admits that, unlike his peers who hit the treadmill after work hours, his hobbies are not very healthy: He surfs the Internet and plays games on his Xbox and Play Station consoles.

Tan, who travels a lot for business, enjoys being a homebody when she’s not donning a power suit. But weekends are barely idle for Tan as she also does community work back home in Malaysia.

During the launch of the upgraded Symantec virtualization solution, Goh and Tan talked to China Business about what it takes to be on top and stay there.

What is the presence of Symantec in the Philippines like today?
Tan: I am happy to say that Symantec in the Philippines is working to come up with larger drivers for the banking sector, manufacturing business, and other enterprises. We also are getting a slice of the SME market. We have a good clientele base and have been in the Philippines for several years now. Symantec, according to research firm International Data Corp., is number one and has majority of the market share in security software.

It’s refreshing to see a woman in charge in a male-dominated industry.
Personally, I didn’t look at it as there being any difference. When I first got into the industry, that may have been a little bit true, that there were less women who were involved in IT. But if you look around today, I think it’s no longer a factor. I think we’re more similar now. In the technical aspect that may be true. Even today, men are more involved in the core technology and the technical aspect of IT. But when you look at it from the business aspect, you would see a fair balance between men and women who are actually involved in the business.

What factors do you attribute Symantec’s success to?
Goh: Customers adapt easily to our heterogeneous strength in the data center, especially with net backup, and also because we have the right data protection that works across platforms. Symantec also provides data protection for applications and different database. Storage foundation drives a lot of our net backup because of our previous relationship with Sun. We are known for having reliable and fast storage solutions that is independent of the storage hardware that companies, our clients, use. These factors establish our big chips in the Asia Pacific market. Solutions and storage are two of the key drivers that allow us to penetrate the market.

What benefits do Symantec’s virtualization solutions bring clients?
IT environments of businesses become more resilient while driving improved operating performance.

The real benefits to customers is the capability to optimize resource migration—being able to pool resources, to allocate them where it is required, to deallocate when it’s required. Resource utilization is also one of the key benefits: being able to reduce the number of hardware you need to run on. When you reduce physical hardware that you run on, you reduce power consumption. But enterprises should have a real long term strategy to realize these cost-saving benefits.

The other benefit is flexibility; [they can] properly deploy new applications quickly.

How has the current economic crunch affected customer response to your solutions and services?
Specific to virtualization, the customers want to reduce costs most of the time. They want to reduce hardware and they want to improve security, and regulate. Most of our customers say, “Oh, virtualization is only a hype.” They ask, “Is it real?” But what we focus on is what their strategies are. If they’re trying to reduce costs, we kind of leverage then discuss how we can go about virtualization to their benefit.

Another good thing about Symantec is that we are hardware independent. We don’t have to work with one particular vendor. We can work with anyone of them. This gives us leverage with the customers. We can move with them the way they want to so it’s easier for them to realize the gains of virtualization. They can go about it with whichever technology they wish to deploy.

How would you drive Symantec to the future?
What I like about Symantec is we focus on the needs of the business. We really understand that IT needs to make things easy for the business. We are always on the lookout for innovative technology to make IT more relevant. We are looking at internal R&D to deliver additional value.

Symantec is not just here to sell a product. If you look at our portfolio of storage foundation and net backup, we have built more capability for our customers. What I’ve seen throughout the years is that we adapt to needs and we give them solutions. That’s what we always do and will continue to do. Our field team always talks to customers. We will take Symantec to the future by listening to the clients’ current plans and future requirements.

What does it take to be an IT specialist?
Right now, in today’s market, the IT guys need to be wired to the business side of things. Usually, when we talk to clients about virtualization or data recovery, they always ask, “What is its’ value to my business? If I invest in this, what do I get back?”

IT people have to look more at the business requirements and a lot less on the feature functions, because feature functions don’t necessarily deliver value. I’ve heard executives comment that their IT guys get too technical, that they miss the big picture. And in order to work with these companies, they really have to see the big picture.

What advice would you give the next generation of IT professionals?
IT is being commoditized, the value changes, moves up. People are looking at how you can deliver. It’s no longer just about the physical innovations; it’s about the service. It’s getting very competitive. There are very competitive hardware and very competitive software. People entering IT have to think about what challenges businesses are facing as well. They should ask questions like, “Based on investments, can you name the benefits IT will bring to the business?”

People getting into IT really need to have a business mindset.

Print ed: 08/09

 

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