In search of specialist VARs

Motorola as a company has considerable consumer recall as a mobile phone manufacturer. But the same may not hold true for its considerable in-depth wireless portfolio of solutions that it has on offer for enterprise customers. 

For the record, Motorola’s enterprise Wireless LAN portfolio includes wireless switches and access ports that support centralized and simplified wireless connectivity; access points designed for indoor and outdoor use; a full suite of Radio Frequency Management software; and 24-hour protection against network attacks and unauthorized access. Motorola supports this infrastructure by offering packaged services to avoid downtime and providing a platform to manage the WLAN infrastructure.
Adnon Dow, Director of Motorola’s Advanced Technologies in EMEA says, “We are largely seen as a mobile handset company. They don’t realise we were the first to manufacture the wireless switch. It is ironic to hear people exclaim ‘oh you are in wireless!’ The only business that Motorola knows is wireless. We have had many firsts and we have been around for over 83 years. We are not going to the wired world. They are coming to us. Companies like Cisco or Alacatel that are dabbling in wireless today don’t come from a traditional wireless world.”
In truth, the manufacturer has been a pioneer of wireless technologies. It has made significant inroads into public and government sector clientele. But now the company, which has considerably broadened the extent of its Enterprise Mobility Solutions (EMS) focusing on the Enterprise WLAN technology, wants to send the message out strongly into the enterprise segment that it can offer one stop wireless infrastructure solutions as an alternative to the traditional wired networks.
Towards end of 2008, it significantly enhanced wireless network security by providing a built-in, hardware-based wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) sensor in its enterprise-grade wireless LAN (WLAN) access points. The integrated product debut followed Motorola’s acquisition of AirDefense, Inc., a leading WLAN security provider and former Motorola OEM partner.
“We are not perceived as a WLAN provider by many CIOs and we want to change that behaviour in the market. We are not where we need to be in the private enterprise sector but we are entrenched in verticals like government, education and healthcare, where there have been government driven initiatives. In a lot of the countries in this region, many of these facilities are operated by the government and we sell a lot in those segments. We sell a combination of our solutions into Defense, Civil Defence, Police etc including wireless handsets,” says Dow.
Motorola was only one of two companies that saw growth in the WLAN market at the end of 2008. The research firm says Motorola is very close behind second-place Aruba while Cisco continues to have a hefty lead with 52% of total global WLAN equipment revenues, or just over $1 billion.
The manufacturer along with Westcon ME, its distributor for the region, recently held a two day workshop for existing as well as new prospective VARs. And the manufacturer is keen to do similar workshops more frequently in the region to bolster its ties with the local channel as well as increase visibility in the market.
Dow says, “Our strategy is to go through our existing distributors to take our new products to market from the Advanced Technologies portfolio. We are also working with them to recruit new partners. Traditionally, RFID products have been our traditional focus but we are moving more towards networking and network infrastructure products and solutions.”
He keeps reiterating the message that the company is scouting for partner with exposure to different verticals. In fact they are looking at new partners who address those segments where the company does not as yet have a significant foothold. The company is looking to recruit VARs that have the expertise to do VoIP deployments, wireless, security etc and understand key verticals.
He says, “Working with our distributors, we are trying to gain new partners with expertise in different verticals which will also help us gain entry into verticals that we don’t as yet cover. Traditionally, we have partners in Retail, Transport and Logistics and some manufacturing. We are trying to get partners from Healthcare, government, Defence etc into our ecosystem. We need VARS to take new technologies to market as well as provide footprint across these new verticals. That is a double pronged approach we are pursuing.”
Beside the company is also keen to help the other VARs in the Westcon ecosystem scale up by bringing them to speed on the new products in their portfolio.  The two day event along with Westcon provided technical and sales training for these partners, teaching them on how to position Motorola WLAN products, detailing ROI and other benefits.  To achieve its objectives comprehensively, Dow claims that they will be doing these events at least twice a quarter and will also be looking at intense channel facilitation activities such as co-funding, subsidised certifications etc.
Dow says, “We will train partners to take our new products to market and we will be allocating marketing funds to our partners and distributors to leverage go to market strategy. We will also give away seed kits to partners for product demos.”
At the first level of training, Motorola takes care of the certifications. At the second level, it co-funds partner to help them send their people to get certified from a third party centre so that eventually, every partner has at least two certified wireless network infrastructure associates on board.
Dow claims that the increased commitment to Middle East reflects the fact that this region is expected to be one of the booming regions in wireless deployments over the next one year. Citing industry research, he claims that emerging markets will outpace developed markets which are fast approaching saturation in deployments.
He says, “Eastern Europe and Middle East are two of the fastest growing markets from the WLAN perspective. Other regions such as Western Europe, N. America, S. America or parts of Asia Pacific are reaching saturation in terms of WLAN deployments. The Middle East is expected to show a CAGR of over 19% growth until 2010 in wireless infrastructure whereas the worldwide average is only between 10-13% depending on the research agency.”
Dow claims, “We have grown almost at twice the industry average. We are trying to grow by focusing on the emerging markets comprising the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.”
The vendor is taking the approach to educate the market including the channel as well as customers about the benefits of wireless and TCO.  It is also training the channel to position wireless in conjunction with the competitive offerings from Cisco, Aruba, Trapeze and other competitors.
Dow says, “There is no other company that gives access to 100 mtrs from the edge of the network to 360 miles. Wireless solutions are about accessing network infrastructure seamlessly without the constraints of time, location, device etc. In the end, what matters, is a network infrastructure that provides utmost security, quality of service and complete network productivity so that anyone can access what applications they need at their own convenience anytime, anywhere on their device. We are trying to do this and are bringing the different pieces together. We have true indoor and outdoor solutions and provide end to end security.”
He adds, “We take a bottom up approach. We look at the roles of users. We see why you need wireless? How much security is needed etc? Where is the user accessing it from? From there, we design the wireless infrastructure to be made available for utilitarian purposes.”
The company claims to be 100% partner centric. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi, UAE, Turkey are some of the markets they are focusing more in the region along with Westcon. Hopefully some of Dow’s optimism can rub off on his channel partners.
Dow adds, “With the recession, that people are looking for ROI. Our products are perfectly adapted to suit those objectives. We believe we have a very unique proposition in this to offer our partners. The customer saves on OPEX. With a new building, it is better to enable wireless rather than wire as it is roughly one tenth of the costs. In a depressed economy, it makes more sense to go wireless and give more people access and increase productivity. On top of that, you could add security solutions and keep overlaying different applications such as VoIP, mission critical applications etc.”
The company is looking to hold more roadshows. A second one in the planning stage could target decision makers from different verticals.
He says, “Our second session will be with enterprise users. Let us say for instance consider healthcare. We will bring CIOs from all top hospitals, Westcon and its partners to one location and try and address the pain points as well as solutions that address them to help end users reduce their OPEX. We will position all our solution right from handsets to the wireless infrastructure for healthcare. In the follow-up session, we will have sessions for their technical resources.”
And the company is also looking to grow at a healthy rate of 20% in the region this year as it strengthens its channel network. In this slowdown where key projects are seeing delayed executions, it would be a testing challenge.

Motorola along with its distributor Westcon Middle East is looking to consolidate its channel in the region with VARs that have expertise in key verticals

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