Components & Peripherals News
Panasonic Connect Launches As A Service For Hardware; New Services For Partners: Exclusive
The company has introduced Toughbook as a Service as a subscription offer for its popular rugged devices and two new services: Staff Augmentation Services and Last Mile Deployment Services, all of which were created with the channel in mind, Panasonic executives tell CRN.
Panasonic Connect is rolling out its first official as-a-service model and two new services as the company redefines its mobility strategy for its robust channel community, an “extension” of the Panasonic team, said Jamil King, director of U.S. Mobility Channel for Panasonic Connect.
Panasonic Connect, a division of the iconic Japanese brand that offers hardware, software, and professional services for enterprise customers, unveiled its new programs and its vision for the future of channel sales this week at its partner summit.
The company, with the help of its partners, is taking on a customer experience and use case-first approach to its popular rugged laptop, Toughbook. The approach will involve both hardware as well as the software and services that customers need to get the most out of their devices, King said.
“We’re extremely passionate about our partner community and I would say that that feeling is reciprocated because many [partners] have been with us selling Toughbooks since the beginning of Toughbooks,” he told CRN. “Panasonic technology may not be 100 percent of the solution, which makes the partner community even more important … When they bring all the pieces of puzzle together, that makes partners even more critical.”
“This is truly an exceptional partnership with Panasonic. Between our sales team and Panasonic’s account managers, they are really operating in lockstep to talk through what’s best for our customers,” said Katie Busch, president of solution provider and longtime Panasonic partner BAYCOM.
Green Bay, Wis.-based BAYCOM provides communication, security and computing solutions as “a lifeline in the moments that matter,” Busch said. The firm’s clients are largely in the public safety, healthcare and manufacturing verticals, which appreciate the reliability of the Panasonic Toughbook. The device, she said, is in line with BAYCOM’s own brand promise: “It will work.”
BAYCOM’s customers are increasingly looking for a one-stop shop from the firm, Busch said.
“The more we can be a holistic provider for our customers by partnering with Panasonic and others to make sure that we’re meeting the customer’s needs not only for the device, but from an install perspective and making sure that when they purchased that device from us, we’re able to provide that end to end solution [by] making sure it’s installed and updated properly in their vehicle, and that they have the proper connectivity. [It’s important] that they see us as a partner [who] can provide all of that,” she said.
As-A-Service Model, New Programs For Business Users
Victoria Vince is director of professional services for Panasonic Connect, a role that has morphed into mobility solutions. It’s a business that Vince, a channel veteran, now runs. The mobility solutions business, she said, is all the services that wrap around and enhance the Toughbook product that create “stickiness” for the company and its channel partners.
“I think this is the most amount of major solutions we have launched in this in such a short period of time, and we’ve got a lot more in the pipeline,” Vince told CRN.
The first offering unveiled at Panasonic Connect 2023 this week was Toughbook as a Service (Taas), the company’s first OPEX model for its rugged laptop. TaaS lets customers buy the latest configurable Toughbook devices, as well as ongoing consultative, warranty, engineering, and staff augmentation services, in a subscription payment model that bills either monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
The company said that this subscription model, which is available through Panasonic partners as well, lets customers add accessories, software, or services as needed, without cost being a hindrance.
The goal with TaaS is to go after potential customers who may have been priced out of purchasing Toughbooks in the past, Vince said. Panasonic Connect designed this subscription model with its channel partners in mind, she added.
“We just see it as another option. When we’re looking at creating products and bringing them to the table, we know that there are so many different points of differentiation that our channel partners can bring different things, whether it’s different skill sets and solutions that they offer, expertise in types of products, geographical footprint, all of those things play into it,” she said. “[TaaS] won’t work for every customer, but we just see it as another option in that playbook.”
The two new services introduced this week were Staff Augmentation Services and Last Mile Deployment Services.
Panasonic’s Staff Augmentation Services gives customers a flexible way to fill talent gaps by letting them bring in certified Tier I, II, and III technology professionals on an as needed basis for long-term projects, without entering high-priced contracts. Panasonic’s Toughbooks are a resilient product that often stay in use for long periods of time. The company “doesn’t just want to sell them and move on,” Vince said.
The service is especially timely thanks to the widespread IT talent shortage, she said. “If we can support [customers] throughout that journey, and we do it right, we’re creating a creative revenue stream for ourselves and for the channel.”
Last Mile Deployment Services, on the other hand, allow customers to depend on Panasonic field service engineers to complete the final steps of device deployment, giving customers a single point of contact to reduce downtime and quality issues, the company said.
Channel partners are part of the Last Mile Deployment program, Vince said.
“We pat ourselves on the back when [for example,] 100 units were delivered to XYZ organization, when the reality is that can bring the customer to a screeching halt,” Vince said. “We really want to create that seamless structure that final step and reduce that downtime and maintain consistent quality across deployments.”
The entire technology industry learned hard supply chain lessons during COVID-19, and these issues can occur at any time due to other global issues, such as the geopolitical climate.
“[For Panasonic,] we want to come up with services and solutions that can be sold with, or independent of, our hardware to really support our customers,” she said.