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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.

No longer.

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

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

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

“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.