… provide us with direct feedback on what’s working and what’s not working, where they see the market going, where they see the channel going, and almost all of those changes to the partner program have really originated from those different sessions. So it’s a great way for us to make sure we are keeping our ear to the ground with respect to our partners and it also goes a long way in making them feel like they are heard. If you go back four or five years and prior, there wasn’t really that type of two-way communication. I feel like a lot of partners back then didn’t really feel like Panasonic was listening and accepting all of their feedback.
CP: What are some of the latest opportunities for partners?
BW: Obviously law enforcement-public safety is one of our biggest markets, and so with the launch of the AT&T FirstNet Network (the first-ever nationwide public safety broadband network for America’s first responders), we’re envisioning a lot of collaboration between Panasonic, AT&T FirstNet and also our partners. This is a big opportunity we’ve got going forward given that a lot of our partners do call on the public-safety market, so as public safety across the country starts to migrate onto the FirstNet network, it creates a lot of opportunities and it’s probably going to speed up a lot of refreshes for new devices as people look to migrate over to a new network. And the good thing is with the collaboration that we’ve got with AT&T FirstNet right now, that acts as a force multiplier and all of a sudden we’ve got a much bigger sales force that’s out there driving this collective sales effort and our partners being one of the legs of that three-legged stool. So that’s one thing that we see coming that I envision us supporting our partners on to really expand their business going forward over the next year.
We also have a couple of new products that are being launched this summer. That’s another area that we’re looking at how those are going to fit into the channel program and which of the partners are going to be able to bring those to market. I think that’s going to be a another nice pickup for our partners.
CP: Can you talk more about the AT&T collaboration?
BW: Basically Panasonic is a master dealer for the AT&T FirstNet network. So as we’re selling and bringing Panasonic devices to the public-safety market, we’re able to get those activated on the FirstNet network. It’s a win-win for both sides. Partnering up with the AT&T team as they’re going out to subscribe as many public-safety customers onto their network as possible, we certainly want them going to market and saying, “Oh, by the way, Panasonic is a great option for you when you’re adding rugged devices onto this mission-critical network.” Likewise, as our sales force is out there as well selling devices, we’re obviously going to be encouraging our partners to consider switching over to the FirstNet network for their public safety. And obviously because our business is fulfilled entirely through the channel, our channel partners are part of that sales process from the beginning.
CP: What percentage of Panasonic’s business comes through the channel? Has that been increasing?
BW: I would say it’s definitely well over 90 percent. But essentially for our mobility business, we’re entirely through the channel. There are a few exceptions for …