Zebra Unveils Refurbished Channel Program, Fleshing Out Motorola Solutions Acquisition

Seven months after purchasing Motorola Solutions' enterprise business, Zebra Technologies hopes to flesh out new opportunities for its expanded channel ecosystem through a newly unveiled partner program.

Zebra's new partner program, which will kick off in January 2016, aims to drive revenue growth for distributors, independent software vendors, resellers and system integrators by offering an enhanced set of training initiatives, education and incentives, according to Zebra.

The unified channel program will roll out what Zebra sees as the best features of the company's existing program, PartnersFirst, a long-standing program already resonant within Zebra, and PartnerEmpower, a newer program inherited from Motorola Solutions' enterprise business.

[Related: New Internet Of Things Giant: Zebra To Buy Motorola's Enterprise Unit]

Sponsored post

"Our goal [in] bringing the programs together … was to continue our legacy around making partners front and center in our business strategy," Denise Hampton, director of North America Channel Strategy at Zebra, told CRN.

"[We want to] create a unified program that really simplifies the engagement that our partners have with us, and also takes the best of both programs and combines those best practices, as well as those that we learned about from our partners in their experience with other programs in the IT space, to come up with a more unified global partner program framework," Hampton said.

The unified partner program will include several features, such as an extended deal registration program, which existed in the PartnerEmpower program but not in the PartnersFirst program, according to Hampton. It will also build upon successful aspects of the existing two programs, such as access to marketing tools and resources, like vertical playbooks, a simplified communication system, and an improved partner portal with user-friendly features inherent in the PartnerEmpower program.

These new features pinpoint improvements based on channel feedback after the Motorola Solutions enterprise business acquisition, which aimed to enhance Zebra's data capture, mobile computing, specialty printing and asset tracking solutions and services, in order to hold off competitors like Honeywell International.

After Zebra acquired Motorola's enterprise business for $3.45 billion in October, the company launched a series of "global listening tours" to talk to partners from various regions about what was working well in the channel and what needed improvement.

According to Hampton, partners wanted to see a program that is flexible enough to engage a number of different partner types and provide more opportunities for partners to grow in revenue or by restructuring their business to align with requirements in the marketplace.

Allen, Texas-based Zebra partner ScanTexas, which resells barcode scanners and mobile computers, as well as solutions sets like RFID (radio frequency identification), asset tracking and warehouse automation, is one such business trying to restructure from a hardware-focused platform to a fully encompassing solutions and services business.

Mark Alyn, outside sales manager at ScanTexas, said the new program will be beneficial for his business as it migrates to a new model, but he and other partners are anxious to learn more about the fine-print details of the program, such as the tier transfer opportunities and pricing levels.

"We want to figure out this new program, but overall we like what we see," said Alyn. "We're anxious to see new pricing levels so we can determine what needs to be changed. But I'm excited to see more things to wrap around sales and make them more profitable."

In the next few months, Zebra will continue laying out the specific details of its new unified channel program, before bringing back a finalized channel framework to partners in August, according to the company.

Zebra will hold further discussions on other aspects of the channel program, the company said, such as pricing levels, transition plans and deal registration percentage features, as well as work to ensure its new unified partner program promotes a global framework with regional nuances, as opposed to independent regional programs, to address various market differences.

"We're very excited -- we think this is a great opportunity not just for us as a new company coming together, but we really think it's an opportunity for our partners to engage and grow with us as we move forward, and we're very excited working with them," said Hampton. "They're a very critical part of our business now and in the future."