The channel, like the technology market in general, is undergoing a major transformation driven by mobility, and Tech Data believes its TDMobility offering can help partners make this transition smoothly, all while raking in a profit through a managed services-type model.
Launched in 2011, TDMobility is a one-stop-shop for Tech Data partners looking for mobility-specific resources, and also provides a way to streamline processes including carrier billing, asset tracking and device activation, explained Joe Quaglia, president of TDMobility, at Tech Data.
"The biggest challenge for [solution providers] is making that transition to establish mobility as practice within their business, which is no different from the cloud. But what might be a little bit more challenging there is you've got a whole new set of vendors, you've got new questions you have to ask your customers -- so a lot of newness," Quaglia told CRN at Tech Data's TechSelect conference Thursday. "And ... our opportunity together is for the Tech Data mobility program and platform to help them do that in a much more simple fashion."
One of the major benefits of the TDMobility offering, Quaglia continued, is that it eliminates the need for VARs to contact major service carriers on their own. Tech Data, instead, carries that responsibility, while still enabling VARs to activate new lines on the carriers' behalf. T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T currently participate in the TDMobility program, with support for Verizon expected to be added soon.
Beyond ease-of-business, TDMobility is also intended to help VARs grow their margins. CellManage, a sub-offering within the TDMobility umbrella, arms solution providers with a single console from which they can manage cellular bills, deployments and asset tracking for their end users.
According to Quaglia, it's a way for VARs to apply their broader managed services models to mobility. It's also a source of recurring revenue.
"The Tech Data platform, and specifically CellManage, gives [solution providers] a managed service offering that they can wrap any services they want around the devices, the rate plans, and then the management of all of that for their customers," Quaglia said.
Still, some solution providers, such as Richard Little, chief technology officer at Milford, Mass.-based Tech Data partner RetroFit Technologies, are still warming up to mobility, questioning just how profitable of a business it is. Little noted that the majority of his customers use iPads, but, as he isn't a member of Apple's reseller program, his company would need to offer other, competing tablets -- a prospect that doesn't seem all that profitable given Apple's dominance in the market.
"There's the Samsung Galaxy ... but I'm just not sure it's worth the price of admission," Little said of getting into the non-iPad tablet game.
Little did say, however, that RetroFit Technologies is starting to embrace mobile app development as a means to profit from today's mobility craze. The company has already developed an app for a client in the irrigation business, and it is hoping to offer more moving forward.
Stephanie Dash, national account manager at Rochester, N.Y.-based solution provider Systms of New York, said her company is just starting to get its feet wet with mobility, primarily offering mobile device management solutions, such as Absolute Software. She said TDMobility, like Tech Data's TDCloud offering, will help her company more easily hunt down the resources it needs to adapt to today's mobile world.
"I'm excited about this because it makes our job a lot easier to identify and quantify what the customer would really need for their environment, specifically," Dash said.
PUBLISHED NOV. 8, 2012