Motorola Adds Industrial Mobile Computing Arm To PartnerEmpower

Motorola Solutions is expanding its PartnerEmpower channel program to include a new segment called Industrial Mobile Computing, focused on the sale of ruggedized tablets, RFID readers, and the other technologies the company acquired through its $200 million purchase of Psion last year.

The new segment, according to Motorola, will not only house the nearly 1,300 partners it on-boarded through the Psion deal, but also allow legacy Motorola partners to better target vertical markets, including retail, field services, transportation and distribution. The Industrial Mobile Computing program will be available starting in the fourth quarter of this year, with exact launch dates varying by region, according to Motorola, Schaumburg, Ill.

"The plan is for us to start integrating the Psion channel into Motorola PartnerEmpower late this quarter, beginning of Q4. The way we are doing that is ... the program allows partners to self-select into different technology segments," said Juliann Larimer, vice president, channels and sales operations, Motorola Solutions, in an interview with CRN. "We are creating an Industrial Mobile Computing segment in PartnerEmpower to house our legacy Psion partners, who can enter very easily and be grandfathered into the PartnerEmpower program."

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Larimer said Motorola has spent the past 10 months since the Psion deal closed putting in its "due diligence" to make sure the transition for Psion partners into PartnerEmpower was a smooth one.

Motorola -- which today has roughly 3,800 North American channel partners of its own -- also views the new Industrial Mobile Computing arm as a door-opener for legacy Motorola partners, particularly within the vertical markets Psion traditionally targeted with its ruggedized devices. Motorola partners will, however, have to meet certain training and certification requirements before being able to sell Psion products, Larimer said.

"There will be requirements for training, certification and then some demonstrated capability -- possibly by hitting some sales volumes or committing to some particular numbers -- to say, 'Yes, I have a demonstrated expertise in this space,' " Larimer said. "What we don’t want to do is create this new arm in Empower and have everybody move into it and create unnecessary channel conflict."

Details of these training requirements are still in the works, Larimer said.

David Bissonnette, executive vice president of Strategic Systems & Technology, a Suwanee, Ga.-based solution provider and longtime Motorola partner, said he welcomes the addition of the Psion product line and new Industrial Mobile Computing arm.

"The Psion product line really helps us fill one gap in the portfolio, which is more of those rugged, industrial applications," Bissonnette said. "It's actually a really nice fit and is a welcomed addition to the product line."

NEXT: Motorola Continues To Evolve PartnerEmpower

Motorola has been continually reshaping its channel, and PartnerEmpower, since its split from Motorola Mobility -- the other organization making up the former Motorola -- in January 2011. Most partners, including Bissonnette, have embraced these changes, all of which they say show signs of Motorola's tighter channel focus.

"With [PartnerEmpower] came a lot of really substantial process improvements," Bissonnette told CRN. "It's really encouraged partners to invest further in the Motorola relationship."

One example of these improvements is Motorola's new Power of a Partner Campaign, a marketing initiative meant to help both partners and Motorola better communicate the value of a solution provider to end customers.

The company also has been formalizing its deal registration process, something partners were especially vocal about wanting after the Motorola split.

"We've rolled it out almost worldwide, but North America was an early leader in deal registration. We've had a great uptake in that," Larimer said. "Since we launched the program last year, we have seen a seven-fold increase in opportunities that were closed in one deal registration."

Bissonnette said deal registration fine-tuning has been one of the most significant improvements made to PartnerEmpower. In addition to extending the shelf life of a registered deal beyond the usual 90 days, Motorola also is offering stackable incentives for software application providers, which, as an application developer, Bissonnette can now tap into.

"I think the biggest things [Motorola has] done is standardized the deal registration process," Bissonnette said. "It started off as a certain percentage for certain partners, and they've become more generous with that discount over time, recognizing the value a partner really brought to the table."