Newly appointed President Quaglia was happy to talk about the evolution of TDMobility and the feature set Tech Data is providing its partners. In the last six to eight months, Quaglia has seen more than 200 partners join the once-selective program, but now the program is commercially available to all channel resellers with a super-streamliend way to add mobility to their portfolio. Quaglia said it works because all the traditional pain points of reselling mobile devices and service plans have been replaced with a traditional sales model.
"We've insulated the channel and resellers from the complexities that go on behind the scenes [with mobility] ... we're working with the carriers and OEMs and we've made the ability to acquire and deliver mobile devices very simple," Quaglia said, noting resellers don't need to worry about device subsidies or carrier billing, as it's all done through Tech Data.
Kriete, meanwhile, explained the program more technically with its two parts, TDActivate and CellManage, reiterating what Quaglia said about Tech Data "absorbing operational complexity with carriers." CellManage provides a "white-labeled cloud-based software as a service platform that allows VARs to offer a completely managed device solution for their cellular lines. I can offer customers the ability to pay me for all their major carriers and manage that experience online," he said. VARs also can allow the end user to use CellManage if their IT departments feel the need. The software tracks billing, and usage -- or lack thereof, in the case of phones that have been misplaced or forgotten in a desk drawer.
With TDActivate, Tech Data is helping deliver "activation of the products directly to the end-user customers," instead of having to deal with a carrier. VARs also can pre-configure and activate phones, notebooks and tablets attached to the user's network of choice, so long as those choices are AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint. (I asked about pricing on service plans, but there's nothing special there -- partners will be selling provider's corporate or commercial service plans.)
In addition, VARs are not responsible for phone subsidies. The example given was simple: If a particular AT&T phone costs $99 subsidized, a VAR would have an opportunity to make profit on that phone as it would only cost $75, and the VAR and could sell it at $99. All the back-end subsidizing is taken care of by Tech Data, making it easier for VARs to sell phones while keeping a margin for themselves. Tech Data's activation portal is equally simple and easy to use, requiring about five minutes of setup time for a VAR to become authorized for product activations.
I asked Quaglia how large he anticipated the partner program to grow. "We don't have a partner prediction, but without a lot of marketing and a lot of focus on scaling to large numbers, we've been able to capture over 200 partners so far, so we're confident about our ability to grow this business with [the] large number of resellers we have," he said.
As mobility demands inevitably grow, it could become a necessity for VARs to add mobile device and activation services to their portfolio. (It's a similar ethos to what Ting has professed.) But more importantly, no VAR or business is too small or too large for TDMobility. SMBs with needs from one to 10 devices, or a large enterprise with hundreds of devices, all can leverage TDMobility to add a variety of devices and carriers under one simplified billing and management console. If you're ready to jump on board the TDMobility train, check out TDMobility University for training, tips and a "demo program" on what to expect when joining the TDMobility program.