Ingram Micro Programs Finally Make Cell Phones a MoneymakerBy Pedro Pereira | Posted 2008-12-08 Email Print
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Selling cell phones and PDAs usually meant solution providers had to give away the activation fees to carriers. Through a new Ingram Micro program, solution providers can retain the activation service and boost revenues by thousands of dollars.
The typical business would rather deal with only one supplier for all its IT needs, be it software applications, network maintenance or hardware procurement. And with the advent of voice and data technology, businesses-technology consumers increasingly expect the IT solution provider to also handle all its wireless and mobility activation needs, from cell phones to notebooks to routers.
But typically, when the time comes to activate the wireless service, the solution provider has to hand over activation to the business customer, who then has to deal with the carrier directly. It’s a reality that hamstrings the solution provider as mobility becomes ever more critical to the customer.
A new service from distributor Ingram Micro’s Mobility Division not only puts the solution provider in charge of the process but also allows the provider to make money off activating wireless devices.
The service, called Ignition, aims to boost solution provider profits, minimize the potential for activation problems, improve customer service and tighten the provider’s relationship with the client.
Ignition leverages Web 2.0 technology through a portal where the solution provider logs in to activate service for the customer. Sprint and AT&T already have signed up for the service, and Ingram Micro says Verizon Wireless will soon follow.
With its potential to boost profits for minimal extra work, the timing of Ignition’s launch couldn’t be better, as solution providers try to fight recessionary pressures by looking for new ways to make money.
Robert Garry, director of Mobility at Ingram Micro U.S., says Ignition didn’t come about because of economic pressures. But, the ironic timing is fortuitous, he says.
Solution providers, Garry says, stand to earn $50 to $250 per activation, which in projects involving multiple activations can easily add up to thousands of dollars. That’s money, he points out, solution providers simply couldn’t get their hands on before the launch of Ignition.
"Since a lot of them aren’t cell service companies, they tended to let the customers take the devices to the carriers to do the activation themselves," he says.
That not only meant foregoing the activation fees, but also created confusion with a lot of customers who couldn’t understand why their IT services provider couldn’t handle the wireless activation, Garry says. Sometimes things would get complicated when the customer contacted the carrier and there were questions about the project the customer couldn’t handle.
MobileTek, a solution provider in Farmingdale, N.J., already has used IgnitionSupport specialist Laura Voll, who says it allows the company to increase its profit margin on wireless products MobileTek already sells. Such products include broadband-embedded notebooks, routers and POS systems.
Voll says Ignition’s interface is straightforward to use and the real-time order status is very handy. "We are able to easily handle all our customers’ wireless needs and keep them actively informed on the status of their activations," she says.
MobileTek also plans to take advantage of Ignition’s capabilities to offer customers self-service portals. That way, she says, customers can tap the Ignition service through the portal to activate their devices.
Garry says Ingram Micro has a program to train solution providers on how to use Ignition so they appoint a technician within their organizations to become proficient at the process. For providers that don’t have the staff, Ingram Micro will handle work on behalf of the provider for a share of the activation commission.