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Tech Data Canada makes a bet on mobility

Wendy Franklin, director of mobility and retail at Tech Data Canada.

Mississauga, Ont.-based Tech Data Canada is in the midst of developing a strategy for a new business unit that will combine mobility and retail.

The distributor recently hired Wendy Franklin, a 16-veteran of the channel, away from rival Ingram Micro Canada to drive this new division. Franklin and subsidiary president Rick Reid are working together to plan out the strategy for the new mobility division. Franklin told CDN that an announcement on the new division and strategy is expected sometime in the fall.

Currently, Franklin has visited mobility divisions at the Tech Data headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and in Europe to learn how those operations work. She has brought back best practices to the Canadian arm to replicate for the channel. In Europe, Tech Data opened a mobility unit approximately eight years ago and currently services the channel with carrier fulfillment and unique vendor supply chain opportunities.

While Tech Data Canada may not officially have a mobility unit in place, the distributor is supplying the channel with mobility solutions through its configuration centre today, Franklin said.

“We’ve seen the expansion of this with Samsung, and to go along with that we’ll see a specific end user need through partners for tablet solutions with apps and customized apps or with unique security features. They want to deploy those in our configuration centre,” she said.

Franklin added that this unit is still in its infancy and the company does not want to limit itself to just tablets. The plan is to expand to any connected device such as a broadband router, a connected accessory, and call centre headsets, for example.

The appointment of Franklin to the position of director, mobility and retail for Tech Data Canada, she says, signals an increased focus for Tech Data Canada on the mobility sector.

“My mandate is to leverage the synergies with retail and mobility and put these two business units together along with the supply chain services expertise we have. Mobility has been a strategic focus and a key growth area for Tech Data Canada. We are looking to make investments in this area and build off of recent wins from Tech Data’s mobility units in the U.S. and in Europe,” Franklin said.

Tech Data currently sports a few vendors in mobility such as Samsung for tablets and Rogers Communications for activation services. Franklin added that the team at Tech Data Canada is working to boost the number of vendors in the new mobility and retail division.

The company just signed an exclusive arrangement with Good Technology, a mobile devices management vendor based in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Tech Data Canada’s targets for new mobility vendors will not exclude smartphone vendors, but Franklin said they would be considering all product categories and supply chain services.

Another market opportunity Franklin sees is with the Bring Your Own Device trend.

“BYOD or choose your own devices; I see that as a huge opportunity and partners are looking to support it as they go-to-market in a multi-vendor and multi-platform way. Whether it’s in the cloud or in the data centre, how to manage it with all the convergence we see that as a huge opportunity,” Franklin said.