Tech Data’s TDMobility Offers Standardization, Predictable Revenue Streams For Mobile VARs7:00 AM EST Tue. Feb. 21, 2012
Tech Data announced Tuesday the general availability of TDMobility, a new platform-as-a-service offering intended to facilitate and standardize the process by which VARs sell mobile hardware and service plans to enterprise, SMB, and public sector customers.
The platform, which had a launch last July with 20 resellers, is currently used by 200 VARs. And now, Tech Data is opening it up to the rest of its mobility channel.
TDMobility enables telco VARs to create a complete, “end-to-end” mobile offering for customers, including activation and billing -- without having to deal directly with the carrier themselves. Tech Data, instead, takes that task into its own hands, serving as a go-between for TDMobility VARs and the program’s three participating carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.
Joe Quaglia, president of TDMobility at Tech Data, told CRN that the aim of the platform is to provide VARs with a “total, comprehensive, end-to-end” mobile solution in a “SKU-able” format to offer their end clients and facilitate their entry into the mobile space. What’s more, he said, TDMobility will benefit service carriers and OEMs by offering them a straighter shot into the channel.
“We wanted to solve… reduce complexity, and we believe we’ve done that better than anybody,” Quaglia cited as the first aim of the platform. “And we wanted to give a route to market to carriers and OEMs who really have never truly and successfully penetrated the VAR channel. And, three, we wanted to give our resellers a new revenue and profit source where otherwise they’ve had to do it in a fragmented fashion or they’ve just been sitting on the sidelines since day one.”
TDMobility encompasses two separate offerings, CellManage and TDActivate. With CellManage, VARs have the ability to manage multiple cellular lines from a single portal to track billing, deployments, and assets. End users also have the ability to manage their mobile fleet, said Charles Kriete, president at ActivateIT, a joint venture of TechData and Brightstar. CellManage is especially beneficial to VARs working within large enterprises that use multiple carrier networks and devices, Kriete said.
“It [CellManage] is a complete managed services offering for that VAR to go into their end user customer to talk to them about the ability to consolidate all their carriers onto a single platform, single billing interface directly with them as their trusted advisor and reseller and being able to manage all that through a single pane of glass.” Kriete said.
CellManage is able to track and manage only corporate-owned assets, Kriete said, but not personal devices used in the enterprise.
TDActiviate, the second platform within TDMobility, allows VARs to activate new devices and then automate a direct billing process between end customers and their carriers. It also accelerates revenue streams for solution providers, providing a portion of commission up front.
According to Kriete, both platforms provide solution providers with a familiar, "SKU-able" format for activating, managing, and handling carrier bill pay, making their entry into the mobile market -- or continued work within it -- simpler. “In both models, it’s a standard process,” he said. “It looks and smells and feels like every other Tech Data transaction they are making.”
Next: Streamlined Revenue Model Gives An Advantage
Rick Hudson, founder and president of Xanadu Development Consortium, an Atlanta, Ga.-based solution provider, has been using the TDMobility platform since November, and told CRN that the streamlined revenue model has been one of its biggest advantages.
“The revenue model is great because we are guaranteed that we are going to get paid within ‘X’ number of days within everything being delivered and signed off on, as far as activation from the carrier,” Hudson said. “And then the hardware revenue is going to be the same thing. We work with our clients, we do our margins, and everything else. But it gives us access to so much more.”
Without TDMobility, Hudson said sometimes revenue coming directly from a carrier was simply never even seen at all.
"A lot of times we didn’t even get paid for an activation if we had to go direct to the carrier because we were all small fish and none of the carriers wanted to deal with this individual" he said. "TDMobility gives us the one big kahuna that says ‘you deal with TDMobility’ and TDMobility makes sure the rest of us have access."
TDMobility has also positioned Hudson to be more of a one-stop-shop for his clients. With the program, Hudson is not only able to activate and manage that device, but provide end users with the ability to keep track of their devices through a single, easy-to-use portal.
"It offers all of us the opportunity to help our customers -- no matter who they are, no matter what kind of device they want to use -- to have a device, to activate that device, and have it all come to them [end customers] in one simple Web site that they can look at for their billing and their consolidation and see what’s going on."
Most of all, Hudson feels as if TDMobility gives his company more of a voice when dealing with massive service carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint.
"The biggest benefit is having their [Tech Data] support system, having their strength behind us, and understanding that if we need something -- no matter whether it’s a five-tablet deal or a 100-tablet deal -- they’re going to come and work just as hard for us to help us make that deal happen."
Tech Data said all devices and service plans offered by the three partcipating carriers are supported, with the exception of iPhones and iPads. The company said it hopes to add the Apple devices (at least from one of three participating carriers) over the next 30 days. Tech Data executives said the company can "get creative" in the meantime to help VARs support iOS products.
Verizon is also not currently part of the platform, but the company said it is "actively pursuing" an agreement.