By The Business Solutions Network
After three days this week of general sessions, one-on-one meetings, and solution presentations with Zebra executives and channel partners, there were a few highlights I wanted to share. Following are three themes that made the biggest impression on me and others I talked to at the event:
- IoT (Internet of Things)/EAI (Enterprise Asset Intelligence). First, let’s start with the relationship between IoT and EAI. IoT is the broader category, representing devices and machines sending and receiving data via the Internet. EAI is a subcategory of IoT and refers to the infrastructure and processes that make IoT activities meaningful (e.g., sensing technology, the cloud, and analytics). Zebra talked a lot about EAI at the show and one example of where the company is enabling this next wave in computing is Zatar (www.zatar.com), its IoT platform, which is hosted in Amazon’s cloud. Philip Gerskovich, senior VP, new growth platforms, Zebra Technologies summarized Zatar best, comparing it to Facebook for devices. “In a similar way that Facebook creates an Avatar, which is a digital representation of a person, Zatar creates an Avatar of physical assets and gives them their own home page in the cloud,” he says. By doing this, Zatar is then able to take advantage of the cloud’s compute power and perform data analytics, which can then be turned into actionable information.
Michael Stryczek, CEO of AB&R (American Barcode and RFID) says that Zatar is playing a key role in enabling his company to offer customers vendor managed inventory and to change the way his company sells label printers. “We’re in the process of changing to a price per print subscription model using Zatar,” he says.
Another Zebra partner, Lee Pickler (Yes, I asked whether he was related to Kellie Pickler, and it turns out he is), president of ScanOnline, sees potential in IoT and Zatar, but he’s anticipating major challenges, too. “As online traffic spikes from billions of devices traversing the Internet to trillions, data traffic density is going to become a real issue,” says Pickler, whose company specializes in enterprise mobility and wireless solutions.
- Sell Solutions. If someone attended the Zebra partner summit without knowing anything about Zebra beforehand, it would be possible they’d leave without realizing Zebra makes hardware — there was that much emphasis on selling solutions (bundling apps with hardware) and services (professional and managed). One of the new offerings Zebra is making available to its partners to make it easier to sell solutions is an app store called AppGallery, which provides Zebra’s ISV partners with an easier way to test, market and sell their applications. Before an app can become available at the app store, it is tested by either a Zebra or SAP engineer. The gallery currently has 75 apps from which VARs can choose. Dino Farfante, president and COO of AB&R commented about AppGallery, “I have about 50 follow up questions about this offering; first and foremost is, “Where is the opportunity for resellers?” Eileen Eck, Zebra’s VP of global channel strategy, marketing and operations addressed this stating that “AppGallery provides partners a single location to find enterprise applications that can be bundled with Zebra hardware and services to solve customers’ business problems.” The idea is that this should make it easier for VARs to identify and sell bundles, which they can then add further value to through services.
- Sell Services. Zebra challenged hardware resellers to bundle professional and managed services with their hardware and software sales. To make it easier for partners, Zebra announced multiple service programs, such as Zebra OneCare, which comes in three options: Essential (i.e., basic assurance), Select (adds 24/7 helpdesk plus availability and visibility), and Premier (this is a managed service, which includes proactive monitoring and alerting, dedicated help desk, and outcome based KPIs). Zebra OneCare will be generally available on June 8 for Zebra’s Enterprise products (i.e., legacy Motorola and Symbol products) and July 8 for its printer products.
A second service program called Operational Visibility Service (OVS) was also announced at the show. Kevin DeSpain, Zebra’s VP, America’s solution sales and services, described this new offering as enabling VARs to deliver deep insights into their customers’ operations. OVM includes a cloud-based MDM (mobile device management) tool, plus more than 20 reports on device location, utilization, operational trends, and services.
If there’s one thing Zebra made very clear at the partner summit it’s that it’s taking the IoT/EAI trend very seriously, evidenced by its acquisition of Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business seven months ago, the way it’s kept its partners involved in the process of merging the two companies into one, and the speed with which it’s rolling out new solutions and services.
The big question that remains after this event is what percentage of Zebra’s 3,000+ channel partners are ready to cross the chasm from AIDC to EAI and do the same?
Zebra Technologies 2015 Global Partner Summit is being held May 3-5 at the ARIA Resort in Las Vegas. For more information on Zebra, go to www.Zebra.com.