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"Customers sometimes think they know what they need, but often times they are wrong," Johnson said. "I see it all the time, where customers go to Costco, get 20 computers, and then find out they're not what they need. If some clients have the ability to log in and access the system, that's one thing. But if it becomes possible for customers to order any product, it devalues us. It's already hard enough to create a value for our clients."
Wang said he hopes to see some kind of customer flags in the database that allows those who have made prior purchases to do things like add to an order or handle updates, but not necessarily make all their purchases unsupervised.
Alexander Osifeso, CTO of Micro Controls International, an Upland, Calif.-based solution provider, said solution providers can benefit from systems like StreamOne as long as the provider respects their business and their involvement in the sales process and does not cut them out of deals.
"We will need transparency from the distributor," Osifeso said. "And the integration of the system must be done at such a level that the customer does not see Tech Data in the process."
Some software like Microsoft Office can be opened for anyone to purchase, Osifeso said. "But we don't want to see this as a tool that will cannibalize our customer base," he said.
Tech Data's new TDMobility plans stem from the move earlier this year by Tech Data and BrightStar, a European mobility distributor, to jointly acquire ActivateIT. ActivateIT provides the platform that lets Tech Data serve as a go-between for VARs wanting to sell mobile devices and the telecom service to activate them.
TDMobility is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering which allows solution providers to handle mobile devices and carrier services via a single SKU.
Greg Parsonson. vice president of corporate business development at Tech Data, called TDMobility a single-source solution that allows all mobile device selection, activation, billing, and engagement with the carriers handled by Tech Data.
"It's a holistic solution to mobility," Parsonson said. "Partners will be able to activate mobile devices in a single reseller transaction. We work with the carrier to do the activation."
The distributor is rolling out TDMobility in stages. The first stage, currently on-going, is to migrate existing customers from ActivateIT into the Tech Data system.
Under phase two, Tech Data will be proactively reaching out to about 85 reseller partners ranging from smaller resellers to software partners to direct marketers to bring them on-board by the end of October to make sure the TDMobility system works as promised, Parsonson said.
In phase three, Tech Data expects to open TDMobility up to all its solution providers, he said.
TDMobility is currently working with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint as carrier partners, and is talking to Verizon, he said.
Tech Data is working with CellManage, a services provider which brings a services approach to the activation, Parsonson said.
"It lets the end user manage their plans, voice, data, and hardware through a simple heads-up display," he said. "So our resellers' customers, regardless of the number of user they have, can determine what hardware to use, what rate plans are best, with it all managed on the back end by Tech Data."
Solution providers will be able to white label the portal so it appears as if the partner is managing the system, Parsonson said. The portal handles the renewals and commission structures and handles all billing reconciliation, he said. It will also make sure partners get their commission checks within 30 days, not 120 days, he said.