Motorola's New PartnerEmpower Tracks: First Up, Wireless

Motorola Monday launched the first in a series of new tracks under PartnerEmpower, its revamped channel program. Focused on Motorola's wireless portfolio, the Wireless Network Solutions track is intended for Motorola VAR partners focused on wireless LAN, broadband, security and VoIP products.

Motorola debuted PartnerEmpower at its partner conference in Las Vegas last month. Instead of the multifarious programs of Motorola past, PartnerEmpower addresses all of Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Solutions (EMS) partners under a single framework, designating them as Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level and awarding them points based on everything from vertical market specializations to Motorola technology certifications.

PartnerEmpower eventually will have three tracks: Wireless Network Solutions, mobility and radio. Within each track is an opportunity to become a Specialist and an Elite Specialist in the particular technology segment.

Greg Kalman, vice president of North American Wireless Network Solutions Channels for Motorola EMS, said the enterprise wireless portfolio was probably the Motorola segment most in need of a channel overhaul.

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"Most of the partners we had that really drive our wireless solutions have had to straddle two programs, with different Web sites and different tools," he said. "The Wireless Network Solutions business now has a unique specialization program."

Motorola's North American wireless partners will be the first to have access to the program, which will be rolled out in stages around the world. According to Motorola, the new program will phase in over the next 18 months as partners are identified and matched up with new classifications that align with their current levels of training and expertise.

The goal, said Kalman, is to help partners feel more comfortable keeping Motorola on their line cards by addressing not only their specialties, but also offering more in the areas of deal registration, training and the ability to collaborate with each other.

"We're going to be a whole lot better and forward thinking about the way we do channels," Kalman explained. "The quickest way to lose partner excitement on a product line or a solutions portfolio is for a partner to find out that it's being scooped by someone else who has superior pricing. We want to partner with our partners, and have them partner with partners."

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Allan Rakos, vice president of business development at Vislink Services, a Billerica, Mass.-based solution provider, said PartnerEmpower had already broken down silos in Motorola's channel program.

"You talk about product groups themselves and talk about those verticals or sectors, and you say, how do we align those solutions?" Rakos said. "You're now able to look at as: I can pick a sector, pick a solution, and I get product support, I can look at it from a program standpoint, I can look at it from goals, and oh, by the way, for the customer, here's the ROI."

Rakos said the work Janet Schjins, vice president of global channels for Motorola EMS, and her team had done was already shifting perceptions of the Motorola channel.

"Motorola is a strategic partner, but we look at it from a services and solutions perspective, where we understand not all the partners do everything," he said. "We brought a solution to the [partner] conference around point-to-point radio, and we said let's talk about end-user customers, let's identify and align with several partners in WiB and WLAN, and let's start working together. We got some really good responses from that."

The next step from Motorola Rakos would like to see is getting demo equipment out to channel partners more quickly and collaborating with partners on more specific marketing and advertising opportunities.

"It's a large task," he said of Motorola's channel revamp. "And I applaud the direction they're going in."

The program tracks for Motorola's mobility and radio units will be introduced in the third and fourth quarters, according to the vendor.

"I think you'll see a revolution in Motorola where our names are on the tips of the tongues of partners," said Motorola's Kalman. "You're going to see a very different face on what's been heretofore known as a company that sells radios, mostly direct."