Mobility solutions are among the most profitable technologies and services delivered by solution providers, even in a tight economic climate. Businesses of all sizes are looking for ways to increase productivity, and that often means pushing connectivity and applications out of the data center and desktop to mobile devices.
This comes as no surprise to Janet Schijns, the newly minted channel chief at Motorola’s enterprise solutions group. In fact, she’s counting on solution providers to not only capitalize on the demand for this technology, but also create a “Moore’s Law”-like effect in doubling the adoption and innovation of mobility solutions every two years.
“Our ecosystem has crossed the chasm in the Web 2.0 world, leading to exciting moves up the value chain,” says Schijns in an interview with Channel Insider. “The channel is going from opportunity partner to inter-solution partner to crowd-sourcing solutions and worldwide connections to share the knowledge and capacity that will put the channel into a Moore’s Law position.
“The channel is capable of doubling or tripling their capacity because they can spontaneously make connections and collaborate on solutions,” she adds.
The world is definitely changing, as individuals and businesses make new spontaneous connections via social networks. In the analog world, those types of connections required traveling to conferences around the country and globe, building a professional reputation, bulking up the Rolodex and, eventually, converting those connections into profitable partnerships. Today, people who have never met are collaborating through open (public) and closed (professional) networking groups to solve problems, brainstorm ideas and jointly deliver solutions that add value to the end user.
It’s the magic of that expanded and dynamic ecosystem that Schijns wants to nurture in her new role overseeing Motorola’s channels for enterprise mobility, mobile computing, automated data capture and wireless and RFID technologies.
Part of the challenge, Schijns says, is that the networking and collaborative opportunities the Internet opens for solution providers also works against them, in many ways. The days when the solution provider held all the information about a product are gone. Consumers (end users) have access to just as much information—if not more—about technologies as the solution providers. And they have the ability to shop for providers of their choice.
“With all the online marketing opportunities, the technology buyer has transformed into channel surfers. The Internet has given people a lot of information to sift through solution providers. Motorola wants to empower the channel so they’re not overwhelmed with information on the technology without losing the benefits to the business,” she says.
Innovation and business empowerment are top drivers in Schijns’ vision. As businesses of all sizes adopt remote and mobile workers to cut costs, drive employee work satisfaction and increase productivity, they will look for hardware, software and connectivity solutions that provide better value. Solution providers, she believes, are the means to unlocking the possibilities with mobility technology and harnessing emerging opportunities.
“We want to expand on the emerging technology and embrace our channel’s readiness to take our solutions forward,” she says. “Mobility has crossed over to help companies become more agile and competitive. Mobile has become an edge. Not just from a cost-saving standpoint, but an enablement standpoint.”
That said, Schijns has a challenge: brand and product recognition among solution providers. Although Motorola sells more than 85 percent of its enterprise products through the channel, its brand is better known among consumers for its cellular handsets and accessories. Unlike Cisco Systems, Avaya or Hewlett-Packard, Motorola will have to work hard to get the net-new solution providers it needs to reach the niches of the SMB marketplace.
Schijns isn’t unarmed in this fight, though. She inherits a well-oiled channel machine that has a full complement and products that solution providers can use to build holistic offerings.
Through its acquisition of Symbol, however, Motorola acquired a vibrant set of mobile data capture and point of sale devices, and a strong channel servicing them. The company this year launched its enterprise mesh wireless technologies, which provides an alternative to enterprises that would ordinarily deploy CAT-6 wired networks with conventional routers and switches. And, most recently, it acquired AirDefense, a wireless security company that, when integrated with its mesh networking gear, should provide a powerful combination for extending wireless mobility.
As for the support programs and getting to know the Motorola channel, Schijns won’t have a steep hill to climb. Prior to joining Motorola, Schijns was the founder and CEO of The JSGroup, a channel marketing and consulting firm in New Jersey. Who was one of her biggest clients? You guessed it: Motorola.
Schijns is quick to point out that vision and tools are only part of the equation when it comes to reaching and expanding market share. Engaging and enabling the channel isn’t of utmost importance; it’s the only path to market.
“As the mobile platform expands and makes mobility of higher value, and makes it a transformer for every enterprise, it will become a brand new route to market in many geographies and open many new opportunities and develop new channel value proposition," Schijns says.