Symantec Balanced Scorecard Analysis
Identify the generic strategies used by Symantec
Symantec is one of the leading antivirus software companies in the United States. Much like its main market rival McAfee, it offers antivirus protection for a continuing fee, along with other possible upgrades and additional security patches for additional charges. From a genetic strategies standpoint, Symantec has a relatively dangerous competitive strategy to stay afloat. There are many companies that price their goods and services far lower than Symantec’s, including a number of free antivirus software companies. However, Symantec does not offer any particularly unique ’boutique’ services to justify its higher price for private or business consumers.
The clientele to which Symantec caters is extremely large and generic, encompassing both commercial and non-commercial (home-based) users. It states that its protection is suitable for a wide variety of usage patterns. But this has proven problematic for Symantec, in terms of distinguishing itself from what has been called the ‘Pepsi’ of the antivirus software market, McAfee (Messmer 2010:1). Symantec has mainly dealt with its competition by ignoring it, stating that the antivirus software market is currently a battle between Symantec and the so-called ‘seven dwarves,’ lumping McAfee in with smaller market players, despite the fact that McAfee has often been a close market rival of Symantec in its offering of many new products and services.
Industry analysts have said that a better comparison between McAfee and Symantec is a game of leapfrog. For example, when Symantec made encroachment into the data-loss prevention market, McAfee followed. But McAfee was a leader in the data encryption market, which Symantec only entered much later.
Symantec is notable because of its brand name. It is differentiated mainly because of its reputation, but not because of its low cost or any specific additional features or services it offers. From a business standpoint, Symantec does not seem to perceive its rivals as a threat. When asked to characterize its main industry competitors in an interview, the CEO of the company merely shrugged and sneered that the market was a story of Symantec and the seven dwarfs. This fails to acknowledge the considerable influence other antivirus software competitors have been gaining, such as McAfee. The ‘seven dwarfs’ comment seems particularly inappropriate given McAfee’s technological leadership as well as its sheer financial strength and customer loyalty (Messmer 2010:1)
Abroad, Symantec’s market dominance seems even shakier. The number three market player, Trend Micro, has made substantial inroads in Japan in the anti-virus security software market (Messmer 2010:1). The early market for antivirus software has been called a ‘land grab’ which Symantec claimed simply by being a first mover. It does not offer either a high-quality product or a low cost product (Messmer 2010:1). Many consumers buy a PC with a free Symantec offer already installed, and continue to subscribe to the service out of habit. But now, more people in the low-cost market are becoming aware of the availability of free online software. Of course, some people will assume that what someone pays for will be better than what is obtainable for free. However, others consumers are willing to take the chance, particularly given the softness of the current economy and American’s determination to cut costs whenever possible. The clear evidence that it is possible to get a virus even with Symantec software may cause some customers to rationalize that they might as well use free antivirus software, since at least that way they will not have lost money from their attempts to guard their computers.
The perspective of Symantec’s dominance is somewhat different outside the United States. In Japan, Trend Micro dominates 80% of the antivirus software market and has been praised by the Japanese for demonstrating greater innovation and effectiveness than either Symantec or McAfee (Messmer 2010:1). As the world grows increasingly global in its perspective, the dominance of other companies abroad could cause Symantec to lose some of its U.S. market share, as publicity begins to spread about new, better and/or lower-cost enterprises. Additionally, as so many viruses and other malware originate from abroad, businesses may look to other nations to provide guidance about how to deal with new threats threat.
The Balanced Scorecard approach entails four basic steps to optimize company performance. The unique perspective of the Balanced Scorecard is that it strives to balance the company’s financial needs and integrate them into the firm’s customer and business service approaches, internal processes, and learning and growth perspectives. (Balanced scorecard, 2011, Strategic Business Plan 4u).
Translating the vision into operational goals
The first step necessary to retain competitive dominance for Symantec is translating its vision into clear and specific goals. Technological innovation would be the ideal way to justify its cost over its rivals. However, failing that, it can offer superior customer service to secure consumer loyalty. Symantec’s objectives must include communicating to consumers what makes its product unique. It can no longer rest on its laurels. The Balanced Scorecard approach would advise the use of marketing strategy of communicating value and innovation to customers, and coordinating this with research and development strategies that would improve product performance. Measuring satisfaction and real, stated improvements in the products would be a critical part of the strategy.
Communicating the vision and link it to individual performance
One of the problems with marketing antivirus software it that people only know that it is working when they do not have it or use an inferior competitor and get infected. This makes it difficult to communicate the importance of a Symantec-specific product to consumers. Consumers must feel that the product brings individual value to their lifestyle, regardless of whether they are business or private customers. The Balanced Scorecard approach would encourage the company to keep track of metrics on customer satisfaction after changes, such as introducing new products to measure the strategy’s effectiveness.
A critical reason that McAfee has been able to challenge Symantec is its superior business planning model. It has shifted to a centralized mechanism of controlling its operations to save on costs and also to streamline and improve customer service. McAfee is smaller, but has centralized its management to reduce expenditures and to manage operations in a more effective and streamlined fashion. The Balanced Scorecard approach demands tracking company efficiency, and reducing waste as a measurement of enhanced efficacy.
Feedback and learning, and adjusting the strategy accordingly
Symantec, instead of resting on its laurels, must compare itself in a realistic fashion with its rivals and evaluate if it is offering a genuinely competitive product with additional value to justify its costs. It must solicit more feedback from commercial and residential users and use this in its product development. This can allow for a more finely differentiated strategy in approaching business and consumer markets domestically and internationally. McAfee has already done this, offering a security portfolio ePolicy Orchestrator management console to allow businesses to keep track of the various additional applications they have purchased from the company. MacAfee also more frequently monitors consumer satisfaction than Symantec. Quite simply, said one industry observer, people who use the McAfee product seem to like it and say that they like it consistently, based upon the data they have submitted through feedback forms. Symantec must initiate a more meaningful dialogue with users when developing products. The Balanced Scorecard approach once again would encourage the company to keep track of how user-generated ideas stimulated new products and product improvements.
Critically discuss the impact of the change agents
Symantec needs to refine is broad-based appeal and instead offer a more differentiated product. While it can still operate as a large firm, it must create greater differentiation in its specific ‘packages’ to consumers and businesses to allow for a more individualized product. McAfee is currently thinking ‘small’ in terms of its approach., While Symantec has founded itself as a mega-corporation, it can still centralize its core enterprise while using technological and research-based innovation to modify its products — either offering value, comprehensiveness, or the ability to address the unique needs of specific groups of customers.
Symantec stands to capitalize upon a number of evolving Internet trends. The first is quite simple: as more people go online, the greater the probability viruses are likely to spread. The growth of the Internet in the developing world, where people often use pirated software with security holes and do not use antivirus software means that the need for Symantec products will expand, provided it can demonstrate itself to be a rival to companies that have already secured a foothold abroad. The greater the number of unprotected users, the more likely viruses will be generated by opportunists, eventually affecting even protected users. Legal and regulatory restrictions upon pirated software are less punitive abroad, facilitating the spread of viruses.
An additional point of entry can be found in the popularity of the Mac, which traditionally has been much less prone to viruses than PCs, simply because virus and malware designers are less interested in attacking a niche market. However, as Macs expand in popularity, so will the need for antivirus software for Macs. Symantec was an early leader in creating Mac-specific antivirus products and should strive to expand this area of the company in the future (Mook 2006). Product development and diversification must be at the core of the Symantec strategy, even before it tries to challenge global rivals. Its current corporate culture and leadership that assumes it is the ‘Coke’ of antivirus software must shift to a hungrier and more competitive model and ethos.
The financial ability of this firm to execute this vision and strategy
According to a recent 2011 press release, Symantec’s revenue was $1.433 billion for the 2011 first quarter, which means its growth was flat vs. last year’s first quarter results, or up 2% after adjusting for currency changes. This indicates that Symantec is still a financially solvent and healthy company, but it must act quickly to rebrand itself, lest its market performance continue to stall.
Balanced scorecard. (2011). Strategic Business Plan 4u. Retrieved April 20, 2011 at http://www.strategic-business-plan-4u.com/balancedscorecard.html
Messmer, Ellen. (2010). McAfee vs. Symantec. Network World. Retrieved April 20, 2011 at http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/060710-tech-argument-mcafee-symantec.html
Mook, Nate. (2006). Symantec Reports on Mac OS X Virus. Retrieved April 20, 2011 at http://www.betanews.com/article/Symantec-Reports-on-Mac-OS-X-Virus/1162578800
Symantec Official Website. (2011). Retrieved April
20, 2011 at http://www.symantec.com/index.jsp
Symantec reports first quarter fiscal 2011 Results. (2011). Official Website. Retrieved April
20, 2011 at http://www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20100728_01
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