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A New Approach to Mobile IT
By Michael Romero, Ingram Micro
Michael Romero has been in the technology business for 24 years, having worked at SanDisk, Avnet and most recently as an IT marketing consultant. In September 2011, Ingram brought Romero onboard to examine the mobile market segment and work with the distributor to establish a new mobile strategy. He did such a great job that the company named him VP of its new mobile division in March. VSR sat down with Romero to discuss Ingram’s mobile strategy and where he sees the Channel heading in the coming years.
vsr: Could you explain what Ingram’s mobile division is?
First off, the new mobile division is the former mobility division. We are calling the new division Ingram Micro Mobile because we are focused on the mobile ecosystem from a mobile platform that handles handsets, software, accessories, and all the things that are incorporated in the mobile market segment. We also assist other divisions that play in the mobile world. We have a DC/POS division that is focused on Motorola-type product segments, and we assist them in activation of services, but our focus in on the true mobile ecosystem.
vsr: How do you define mobility?
Mobility has become a statement similar to services or consulting—it’s a generic term that doesn’t refer to cellular or Wi-Fi. Ingram Micro Mobile will only be focused on the mobile ecosystems, including products such as handsets, tablets, ultrabooks, and enabling those products through different services and software. If you look at where mobile is going into the marketplace, it’s no longer just referring to the tablets you work on. Look at Nordstrom’s and how they are taking tablets and moving them from behind the counter and placing them into the aisles where employees can engage customers. Same with healthcare or education—mobile is almost a ubiquitous statement across so many different market segments. We want to enable our VARs—our partners—to go after that business and add services of their own to really become players in the mobile market.
vsr: How do you help your partners navigate the mobile market?
The traditional VAR segment has a certain way it engages its customers. There are some complexities with mobile that you don’t have with your traditional technology market—you have service activations, subsidies to your devices, different software strategies. I believe in bridging the gap. The mobile/tablet world and the traditional computer technology world are running parallel, but are starting to merge. We are just trying to simplify it and provide toolsets and enablement through automation to make it easier for the VARs to do business as they always have, while incorporating these activated devices into their portfolio of products.
vsr: Where do consumer tablets fit into the grand scheme of selling mobile solutions?
If you look at mobile in the traditional computing sense 15 years ago, the corporation set trends and dictated the platforms. Today, in mobile, the consumer dictates the platform from usage models and volumes. It’s up to the VAR to educate clients [about the hardware] and enable the devices to be as secure [as possible]. The consumer will drive mobile, but there will be opportunities to add value around services and software.
I also think that there is a place for enterprise and consumer devices. There will be ruggedized devices that will be required in certain environments. But other environments will try to take the consumer device and add a skin or accessory to enable [the tablet] to be more rugged. It’s going to be a blend on both sides. What’s key is how you market the product into the channels. We need to clearly communicate to our customers what technology is best suited to what environment, but it’s going to be the end-user that dictates what they want.
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