As mobility has taken over the enterprise, it has presented opportunity and challenge for VARs, systems integrators and MSPs historically more focused on selling hardware rather than services. Distributors, recognizing that partners needed help incorporating mobility, over the past couple of years have launched mobility divisions. Areas of specialization include voice, data, BYOD, devices and machine-to-machine/Internet of Things (M2M/IoT). Each of these areas is complicated by itself, so distributors including Ingram Micro, ScanSource POS and Barcode, SYNNEX, Tech Data and Westcon Group have formulated unique approaches to their partners' needs.
Each distributor has its own goals and associated momentum (see table, "Distributors' Mobility Partner Programs"). Some are focused on combinations of services and hardware in a variety of categories, while others remain more narrowly focused. Among the distributors that would discuss their traction, mobility is proving a huge source of growth. As just one example, SYNNEX said activations have grown 3,000 percent since the launch of its mobility practice and continue to increase by 60-100 percent month-on-month. Similarly, Tech Data's activations have gone up 144 percent since launch, with enterprise solutions revenue up 35 percent year over year.
Here are some of the other ways distributors are making mobility easier for their partners.
The average company has deployed more than 12 custom mobile apps and, in 2014, plans to deploy almost 12 more, according to John Jackson, research vice president of mobile and connected platforms for IDC, in an October 2013 Q&A. ScanSource, in its PoS and Barcode division, has learned the hard way that organizations are demanding custom mobile apps. The distributor discovered it was losing a number of deals where "selling some hardware wasn't going to provide a solution," said Ken Campbell, education and content specialist for ScanSource. Instead, software was the answer. As one example, a delivery firm dropping off milk at restaurants needed to log and track that activity. An equipment sale was no fit, so the transaction hit the skids. Instead of continuing to watch those prospects disappear, ScanSource came up with a new tactic: pairing resellers with ISVs who do not sell hardware, and who instead focus on developing custom mobility software. "It's something many resellers didn't even know they needed until they saw the opportunities they were passing up," Campbell said. The program includes about 90 ISVs that ScanSource has vetted to make sure they complement resellers' needs. "Now guys who were walking away from deals are going to stay relevant," said Campbell.