Recently, two long-time partners of Research In Motion® (RIM®), Tech Data and Brightstar, announced a US Joint venture: ActivateIT™. Having worked for several years at a VAR (Value Added Reseller), I was interested in this “evolution” of the channel model, and was able to speak with Charles Kriete, the President of ActivateIT, about the how’s and why’s of this novel approach to delivering mobile business solutions. Here’s what he had to say:
Charles, just to lay the ground work, what exactly is ActivateIT?
ActivateIT is a joint venture company between Tech Data and Brightstar, with its primary charter being the enablement of activation for embedded cellular products via the technology value-added reseller channel. The logistics capability of Brightstar and the channel reach of Tech Data, together with ActivateIT’s experience in the cellular/VAR supply chain, bring an unparalleled offering to the marketplace.
Can you expand a bit on what exactly ActivateIT is bringing to market?
ActivateIT offers a complete array of supply chain solutions that allow the VAR community to easily sell the various offerings from wireless carriers and mobile vendors. With CellManage and TDActivate, we provide the VAR with a simple way to resell wireless products and services, either via a managed service model (CellManage) or an automated supply chain to complete activations (TDActivate). Additionally, we offer mobile software and accessories, notably BlackBerry® products. Paired with CellManage and TDActivate, these provide more value-add services to the end customer. Finally, we offer a complete suite of back-office services, enabling wireless carriers to easily engage and sell products and services that are outside their normal portfolio through this channel. Supporting VARs, Carriers, and Vendors, these offerings ultimately provide more flexibility and choice for the end-customer.
How does this suite of offerings differ from the carrier’s or mobile device vendor’s traditional sales model?
This offer is completely unique from a supply chain perspective. We have taken the complete offering of carrier products and wireless service and simplified the supply chain to sell those products and services in exactly the same manner that VARs sources everything else from Tech Data. The ability to deliver these items, combined with our managed service offerings, makes this the first viable supply chain for the wireless carriers to reach the end customer organization through the IT VAR community.
What was the impetus in launching this venture? What need does ActivateIT fulfill?
Mobile technology is increasingly common as part of the IT lineup and now, more than ever, general technology purchases are tied to some aspect of a mobile strategy. This convergence of general technology and mobile products has reached critical mass, causing end user customers to demand more unified purchase options. This created an opportunity for tech distribution to play a bigger role in driving the connected world. The challenge, however, was that the VAR supply chain for mobile services and other mobile cloud offerings was almost non-existent. ActivateIT’s ability to work with the world’s largest mobile distributor and one of the world’s largest tech distributors to deliver the first effective mobile solution supply chain to the VAR community is a unique, and much needed, offering.
How does this fit into the larger RIM solution/ecosystem?
RIM is the dominant player in the commercial and government marketplace. The pervasiveness of mobile connectivity in these communities, however, has created a nightmare for IT buyers and IT managers everywhere. This channel represents an opportunity for RIM to provide a “one-stop-shop” for enterprise organizations to access a holistic solution. Our VAR partners are equipped to sell complex solutions and put together the components of an entire mobile strategy including the BlackBerry components such as BlackBerry® Mobile Voice System, BlackBerry® Enterprise Server installations and 5.0 upgrades, Microsoft® SharePoint® access, smartphones and tablets, as well as other 3rd party components and services. Overall, we are closely aligned with RIM to help augment the existing RIM channel business with activated handhelds in addition to the software and support lines.
Well Charles, this certainly sounds like a much needed compliment to the carrier and retail channels already in place. Clearly each customer’s needs vary a great deal, and ActivateIT should be very successful in supporting IT organizations’ demands. Best of luck with your new venture!
How do you procure your technology products? Do you have a single VAR or do you use multiple providers? Is your VAR providing mobile solutions and advice? Should they be? Let us know your thoughts!