Ingram Micro Canada pushes VARs to get savvy in the wireless market

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Just as people are addicted to cell phones (and cringe at the thought of leaving home without one), tech vendors are gearing up for a similar love affair with the world of wireless — and they want resellers to get in on the action.

Harry Wttewaall, national ThinkPad

sales specialist for IBM Canada, says while we’re still very much a wired, tethered world, we need to extend the boundaries of our office with the help of wireless technology.

Wttewaall was one of several speakers at an Ingram Micro hosted seminar, dubbed “”A Wireless Affair,”” aimed at helping resellers uncover the growing wireless opportunities in the small-to-medium sized business (SMB) market.

The Ingram Micro wireless technology expose attracted a host of vendors including Axis Communications, D-Link, Cisco Systems, Bell Mobility, Netgear and Linksys, among others, who showcased their gear in a bid to entice VARs.

Wttewaall says there are many reseller opportunities in the business-to-employee (B2E) space, business-to-business (B2B), and business-to-consumer (B2C) markets. Wirelessly extending e-mail to employees; improving corporate productivity, logistics and operations via wireless applications; offering order tracking and CRM functionality (key customer information for mobile employees); as well as consumer access to the organization for content and transactions are just some of the wireless possibilities. “”VARs can help customers step through the different stages of wireless adoption.””

The idea is to “”think in terms of vertical applications,”” Wttewaall says. Key markets where partners can help design the right solution include healthcare, retail and education.

Pam Norton, wireless business development manager for HP Canada, says a VAR’s “”bread and butter”” will come from peddling products and services in the handheld space. But a key trend when selling wireless, she says, will be to nab the business groups within an organization and not just focus on the IT segment.

Indeed, the wireless boom will take place within the next few years, says Wttewaall, and VARs need to get ready. IDC expects wireless data spending to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 52 per cent in 2006 or $386 million.

Adrian Di Adamo, channel account manager for Cisco Systems, says the wireless local area network (LAN) market, in particular, is ready to explode, and it’s the key space where VARs should be playing, given the advanced work on standardization (802.11b is firmly set) and the vast number of products coming to market.

Key markets include education, hospitality and retail, he says. “”The most exciting vertical is retail. Here you can have interactive touch displays attached to carts, which offers store directory, product information; Web touchscreen stations for Net services, which could locate manufacturer info and offer price and value comparison; as well as PDA Internet access,”” he says.

But while the possibilities seem endless, the biggest challenge hindering widespread wireless adoption continues to be security issues, Wttewaall adds. He says it’s not a strong reason to stay out of the game.

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