Selling in a Slowdown: Wireless is an ROI Hot Spot

As the economy continues to weaken, what happens to the wireless opportunity? The not-so-surprising answer is that it grows stronger.

“The key for mobility is that it helps corporate ROI, because it affects opex savings, go-to-market capabilities and productivity,” says Chris Metaxas, vice president of business development at Westcon Group Inc., which has announced the launch of MobilityPoint, a partner-enablement program designed to help resellers capture mobility opportunities within the end-user community. “Selling wireless is not about products; it’s about driving business value. And VARs can tie value to business needs in a slow economy.”

For instance, fixed-mobile convergence represents one such value proposition. “Consider the migration to VoIP; the same technology can now be used in a wireless network,” says Metaxes. “So cell phone expenses get cut — and workers can go from office to office, while the wireless phone becomes the desk phone.”

The Nirvana state is the ability to switch to the cellular network when outside of the office, he adds: “That gives you one device to manage, the ability to pool minutes, and to consolidate and bypass carriers. That is absolute business value and will give a spending stimulus to mobility.”

VARs also can turn to wireless mesh and outdoor WLANs as a sales opportunity in a downturn. “Being able to sell applications that layer on top of the network offers VARs a true means of growing their business,” says Susan Masek, director of channel sales for BelAir Networks. “That’s really attractive in downturn. The resellers that can do that are the true definition of the term ‘VAR,’ that is, value-added.”

As an example, one BelAir VAR has created an application for city parking. A disc implanted in the pavement registers when a car drives over it and signals the parking meter. If the meter isn’t fed, a ticket is automatically issued. If the driver pays for three hours but only uses one, rather than leave the excess time on the meter the disc erases that time when the car leaves. “So we’re now talking about that parking space becoming a real revenue-generating piece of real estate, constantly,” says Masek.

Meanwhile wireless dealers can capitalize on the fact that cellcos are aware of the pinch in the pocketbook that subscribers are feeling. Last month, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and Sprint-Nextel Corp. all announced sub-$100, all-inclusive plans, allowing dealers to re-up subscriber contracts.

At the same time, Gartner Inc. predicts that “…mobile messaging revenue across major markets will grow 15.7 percent in 2008 to $60.2 billion, up from $52 billion in 2007.” Additionally, “2.3 trillion messages will be sent across major markets worldwide in 2008, a 19.6 percent increase from the 2007 total of 1.9 trillion messages.” That too represents opportunity, both as a driver for data plans, but also in helping with business productivity.

“With messaging, communication takes every form — so wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’re messaging,” says Metaxas. “Wireless allows you to message anywhere, and that drives productivity. So that’s another driver for businesses to acquire wireless technologies.”

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