Tech Data pushes mobility message at Channel Link conference

Tech Data is looking for its channel partners to get in front of mobility in a big way. At Channel Link it laid out the opportunity for partners.

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UNCASVILLE, CONN. -- Judging from Day 1 at Tech Data Corp.'s Channel Link event here at Mohegan Sun this week, the company is looking for its channel customers to get out in front of mobility in a big way.

Tech Data announced this week that it will distribute mobility security products for Good Technology through the Tech Data Mobile Solutions division, and Good CEO Christy Wyatt delivered one of the keynote addresses at the opening general session on Wednesday. And throughout the day, Tech Data highlighted for attendees why mobility presents such a problem for IT organizations, as well as the opportunity that problem presents to channel partners.

"For a long time the perception was security was something that banks and government customers needed to be concerned about, but the rest of the world wasn't so interested. [The reality is] this is a pretty huge problem that's applicable for pretty much about every company on the planet," Wyatt said.

That's because, Wyatt said, mobile devices, many owned by a company’s employees, are outpacing desktop and laptop sales, and those mobile devices are not controllable in the same way that desktops and laptops are. "The problem today is that you have very little control over what ends up on [mobile devices]," she said.  

Many customers are also in some denial about the risk presented by mobile devices, Wyatt said. "Oftentimes, I hear from customers, 'My employees don't really have sensitive data.' But if they have logged onto a corporate service, then those credentials could be applied to any other assets on the network," she said.  

Good Technology addresses the mobile security problem with end-to-end security products that present a path to grow within a partner's application ecosystem, the company said.

One of the messengers of the story of the mobile opportunity for partners was Terry Hedden, founder and CEO of Cloud Guru, a St. Petersburg, Fla., cloud consultancy, who led a breakout session titled "Quick Start Session on Crafting a Mobility Offering."

Hedden mapped out the trends that are driving mobility in the enterprise. Those factors include, he said, bring your own device (BYOD), which presents the opportunity to approach customers around their security needs; millennial-generation workers, who expect to use mobile devices at work as they do in their personal lives; IT staff members, who feel pressure to respond to the demands of millennials; companies' desire to empower their employees; the opportunity to lower hardware costs as employees pay for their own cell phones and in many cases their data plans; the proliferation of decentralized IT as budget power shifts from IT to line-of-business managers; the desire to collaborate without being restricted to certain devices; and corporate agility and competitiveness, as companies gain the ability to make changes more quickly as they lower their investments in hardware.

"For those of you who are running the VAR/MSP machine, you've got to look five years out to make sure that you make it five years out," Hedden said. "We have to evolve as a group, and there's two things that have to evolve. One is cloud, and one is mobility."

Hedden also said that the channel needs to consider the interdependencies between mobility and the network, business application development, security and compliance, and policies. "The cell phone is connected to the network 24/7," Hedden said. "Everyone understands that. But that connectivity is what's drawing us into that conversation with customers, and you need to be part of that conversation."

Hedden advised attendees that are using an RMM tool to give away the mobility license associated with the tool to ensure that they are hooked into their customers' mobile devices. "Whatever it costs you, that inconsequential amount, pales in comparison to the fact that if you don't [give the license away], you're no longer controlling … devices that are most important to your customers," he said.

For Michael Klein of VAR and managed services provider SMB-focused Computer Directions Inc. of Long Island, N.Y., mobile device management provides entry to mobility-focused managed services via the RMM platform his company uses. "MDM is still in its infancy. All the MDM products out there have room to grow and mature, but it’s a good start. And, it’s a great way to expand from the office network and gain entry into the mobile market," Klein said.  

Hedden said that IT channel partners that are developing a mobility practice need to examine their sales and marketing strategies. His three pieces of advice in this area: A consultative approach is required, partners should not take a standardized approach to pricing and margins, and they should take a proposal-oriented pricing and bundling methodology, instead of providing customers with quotes.

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