Wi-Fi Specialist AirTight Networks Aims To Create New Class Of Social Media MSPs

Wireless specialist AirTight Networks is rolling out a new partner program called EZ Street, aimed at growing solution providers' managed services footprint and offering them new opportunities around social media and big data analytics.

The EZ Street program, according to Anita Pandey, vice president of marketing and business development at AirTight, is just the start of what will be a major channel offensive from Mountain View, Calif.-based AirTight.

"Our goal is, within the next 12-18 months, to do at least 80 percent [of our business] through the channel," said Pandey, who joined AirTight in October from Ruckus Wireless. "If we can get to 100 percent, there's nothing to stop us. It's more just the reality of getting the mind share."

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AirTight's new EZ Street Program is targeted at solution providers in the wireless and networking arenas that either want to establish or grow their managed services arm. The services opportunities with AirTight are rich, according to Pandey, because AirTight's access points are part of the company's broader cloud services offering, meaning they are hosted and managed entirely from the company's public or private cloud.

What's more, Pandey noted that there are zero upfront costs for either AirTight customers or partners, as all AirTight access points are sold and purchased in an opex-based model.

Also setting AirTight apart, according to both Pandey and AirTight partners, is the fact that its access points come with AirTight's Social Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Analytics solutions built-in. Targeted largely at vertical markets like retail, hospitality and the food industry, AirTight's Social Wi-Fi is designed to give businesses better insight into their customers' preferences and buying behaviors, allowing them, ultimately, to roll out more targeted loyalty programs and marketing campaigns.

AirTight's Social Wi-Fi works by prompting users to enter either their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn credentials when accessing AirTight's wireless network as a guest. From there, businesses can use that information to suggest, for instance, that users "Like" their business Facebook page in exchange for a product discount. Businesses could also use the feature to gain a glimpse into users' personal interests and preferences -- only, AirTight said, if a user opts to share -- and then leverage that information to create more personalized promotions or ads.

AirTight's access points also come with more generic wireless analytics capabilities that can help businesses track foot traffic throughout their facilities, customer dwell times and how often a customer visits.

Scott Henson, founder of POS Technical, an Anaheim, Calif.-based solution provider specializing in point of sales hardware and software solutions, said his company became an AirTight partner about a year ago, and that his AirTight business has grown every month since. He said AirTight's Social Wi-Fi and analytics capabilities have especially gained traction among his clients in the food and restaurant industry.

"It was a no-brainer. If you are going to deploy [an access point] anyway, why not deploy one that provides you with some useful information you can actually do something with," Henson said. "When we start showing [clients] what they can do this with this, their eyes light up and they start getting all kinds of ideas. It's really cool, and we are literally just scratching the surface of what we can do."

Pandey said AirTight has already been selling its products through a "couple hundred" solution provider partners, but hopes to grow that number with the launch of its new EZ Street program. The program will group partners into three categories -- Authorized, Platinum and MSP -- based on sales volume and the number of certified AirTight engineers and sales reps they have on staff.

At the Authorized level, there is no revenue commitment, but partners must have one AirTight certified engineers and sales rep on staff. The Platinum level requires a revenue commitment, in addition to partners having two engineers and two sales reps on staff. The highest-end MSP level requires the same revenue commitment as the Platinum level, but partners need to have a total of three engineers on staff.

Pandey said discounts and other partner incentives increase at each tier. She declined to give exact partner discounts or margins, but said they're competitive.

Other partner perks, Pandey said, include access to AirTight's Mojo Studio application suite, which offers solution providers a single sign-on dashboard for managing multiple customer sites. She also noted that all of AirTight's access points are "pre-flighted," or come pre-populated with customer configuration and security settings, to help streamline partner deployments.

Pandey said AirTight is offering free partner training courses that can get solution providers certified in under three hours.

The AirTight EZ Street program goes live on March 31.