Nokia is enlisting systems integrators and value-added resellers in its drive to deliver more complete mobile systems to enterprises.
The Nokia for Business Channel Program follows the mobile phone giant's expansion of its enterprise product line through the acquisition of Intellisync last year. Nokia has long sold security products through enterprise channels and its handsets through mobile operators and retail stores. The company announced Thursday it is expanding its business offerings with more mobile communications and IP (Internet Protocol) telephony products, including e-mail, device management and file synchronization products. Nokia got some channel partners through the Intellisync acquisition, but it wants to add more partners and make sure they are all qualified.
The entry of more channel partners will give enterprises greater choice in whom to buy Nokia products from, said Mary McDowell, executive vice president and general manager of the company's enterprise solutions business. The partners can also deliver the type of support that enterprises are used to getting with complex systems, she said.
Nokia wants to expand its enterprise scope beyond smartphones and e-mail to more complete mobility offerings supporting office phone systems and a variety of applications for use on the road. For example, it has partnerships with several vendors to make business-class eSeries Nokia phones work with those vendors' office phone systems.
When an enterprise buys a set of handsets along with a service such as mobile e-mail, it's much more complicated than just getting phones and a calling plan, McDowell said. There is a server and software to install and integrate into the organization's security infrastructure, and a need for long-term IT support. Nokia wants systems integrators and resellers to fill that void.
As part of its program, Nokia will train and certify channel partners and offer them incentives that are tied in part to how much help they give enterprises setting up new systems. The program will have three tracks. Mobility partners will be able to sell Intellisync Mobile Suite and other software for functions such as device management. Security partners will be licensed to resell firewall, IP VPN (virtual private network), intrusion prevention and other products. Voice partners will sell Nokia's enterprise voice systems. All the partners will be licensed to sell Nokia's eSeries business handsets, although Nokia expects most of its handset sales to continue going through operators and retail stores.
Nokia will encourage partners to specialize in more than one track. There will also be two levels of certification, Authorized and Expert, with different levels of training provided by Nokia. The partners will get products through Nokia's authorized distributors.
The Finnish mobile giant made the right decision to expand its channel instead of trying to build its own sales force, which is expensive and time-consuming, said Gartner wireless analyst Michael King. He applauded one feature of the program, a mechanism for enterprises to tell Nokia how good a job the systems integrator or reseller they are working with is doing. It's rare for a vendor to have this type of check on its channel partners, he said.
A local Nokia spokesperson confirmed it planned to launch the program into the Australian market shortly.