Motorola Renaissance? Partners Tout Tighter Focus, Better Incentives Since Moto Split


It's been nine months since the former Motorola split into two companies and Motorola Solutions Inc. -- the enterprise-focused networking company where most of Motrorola's channel-centric business resides -- began the tricky task of defining itself.

Fast forward to the present, however, and Motorola solution providers say the split's been a net positive. Not only is Motorola Solutions is growing its channel business with a tighter focus on partner profitability, but there are now sales incentives for VARs and channel programs that make sense to partners looking to grow with Motorola.

"I see it moving in the right direction," said Rodger Jenkins, president and CEO of Excalibur Integrated Systems, a Chattanooga, Tenn.-based solution provider. "You're not going to change Motorola in a day, but I see and hear plenty of things going on, and right now I'm cautiously optimistic."

Jenkins' tone was echoed by a number of Motorola solution providers contacted by CRN in recent weeks. With Motorola's 18-month old PartnerEmpower channel program starting to bear fruit and the company pushing forward on more favorable deal registration terms, Motorola Solutions' channel story is seen as stabilizing -- even as Motorola, the company brand, absorbs so much change.

Daniel Nettesheim, CEO of Barcodes Inc., a top Motorola partner based in Chicago, said that Motorola Solutions' focus on channels is more apparent now than ever.

"I see a refocus on leadership in North America, and I'm in a lot better touch with the senior leadership now that they're not wrestling with the distraction of the split," Nettesheim said. "Pre-2011, the senior management group was less available. Now, I'm spending time with them every quarter, and [Motorola] is here training twice as often as they were last year."

It's been a transformative year for the company. Following its split from Motorola Mobility, now in the process of being acquired by Google, Motorola Solutions became a roughly $8.5 billion company that did 66 percent of its business in the public sector and 34 percent in enterprise, as of the fourth quarter of 2010.

In its most recently reported results, for the second quarter of 2011, Motorola Solutions posted sales of $2.1 billion -- a 6 percent increase from $1.94 billion in the year-ago quarter. Government sales were $1.3 billion, up 4 percent from Q2 2010, and enterprise sales were $747 million, up 11 percent from Q2 2010.

Structurally, Motorola hasn't stopped changing. In April, Motorola Solutions completed its sale of wireless infrastructure assets to Nokia Siemens Networks, capping off a planned deal that was in the works long before the split.

In August, Motorola Solutions confirmed it would sell its two wireless broadband networking units -- Orthogon, or Point-Point Wireless Broadband, and Canopy, or Point-Multipoint Wireless Broadband -- to Vector Capital, a private equity firm that planned to combine the units into a single company called Cambium Networks. Under the agreement, Motorola will continue to buy from Cambium products for the public safety and federal government customers it supports directly.

But for solution providers, the structural changes to Motorola's channel program -- criticized by partners for not providing better incentives and deal protection for its best performers -- have been the biggest reason to bet big on a slimmer Motorola Solutions.

NEXT: Motorola's PartnerEmpower Program