Tech Data BYOD Portal To Help VARs Capture Employee Purchases

IT distributor Tech Data announced that its TDMobility business unit will offer VARs a branded portal to help them address procurement issues in their customers’ BYOD environments while at the same time turning back the tide on lost corporate-liable mobility purchases.

The TDMobility BYOD Portal will be generally available beginning May 1. The launch was a primary announcement at the IT distributor’s channel partner meeting, ChannelLink 2013, held in Orlando this week. It is part of a larger corporate initiative under development called TD BYOD that crosses technology and service boundaries for end-to-end support, including device, connectivity, MDM/security, peripherals/accessories, infrastructure and managed services/specialized support.

The TDMobility BYOD Portal essentially is an e-commerce portal for a business’s employees to purchase mobile devices — smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks and notebooks — and carrier service plans at the discounted rates their employers have negotiated. And while the employees are liable for the charges, the usage is aggregated along with corporate usage for increased discounts.

The portal  is branded and customized for the employer, creating a “choose your own device,” or CYOD, alternative to BYOD that also gives the employer a modicum of control over the reimbursable costs as well as the range of available devices allowed on their corporate network.

They can choose products based on TDMobility’s agreements with Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T.  The full product lines are available for Sprint and T-Mobile. AT&T’s offer presently excludes Apple’s iPhone. And Verizon Wireless presently offers only two tablets — no smartphones — through TDMobility.

For VARs, the BYOD Portal, also represents a way for them to recapture lost spend as mobile devices migrate from corporate-liable to employee-liable. Charles Kriete, executive vice president for TDMobility, said the percentage of corporate-liable environments has plummeted in the last two years from 60 percent to 15 percent.

With BYOD Portal, all employee orders will go through the TDMobility partner rather than a local retailer. “[BYOD Portal] is the first time that anyone from a distribution point in the supply chain is helping resellers reach down to literally give them an ecommerce platform for the employees to start ordering and interacting with our resellers,” Kriete said in an interview with Channel Partners.

In its research and development efforts for the forthcoming TDBYOD offer, Tech Data consulted three of its largest resellers, who in turn provided the distributor with access to some of their largest customers to find out what they needed. Among the priorities were 1. device procurement, 2. device imaging,  and 3. personal/corporate expense tracking.

At launch the BYOD Portal integrates procurement and device imaging, which is the process of deploying the image of an operating system and installing it on a device.

As far as helping with expense management, TDMobility has a separate managed service, CellManage, that provides that, but it’s not integrated into the BYOD Portal. “It was a common enough request that we should address it, but we weren’t prepared to build it into our portal out of the gate,” said Kriete. Instead, he said the company is partnering with Visage Mobile to integrate with Visage MXP Platform, which integrates expense management functionality from  Concur. Portal customers would need to already own or buy the Visage platform to get the expense management capabilities.

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