Tech Data Unveils Worldwide Mobile Solutions Business


Tech Data is taking its mobility focus worldwide.

The IT distributor Tuesday introduced Tech Data Mobile Solutions, a new global business unit dedicated to mobility hardware, software and solutions. The move consolidates Tech Data's different regional operations for mobility solutions into one cohesive business unit. Tech Data named Rod Millar, previously president of Tech Data Mobile in Europe, as senior vice president of the new Tech Data Mobile Solutions Business. Millar will report to both Joe Quaglia, Tech Data's president of the Americas, and Nestor Cano, president of Tech Data Europe.

"This move gives us a full comprehensive, end-to-end mobility business across the globe," Quaglia said. "The whole idea is to simplify the mobility category and make it easier for VARs to go to market with mobile solutions."

The launch of the new mobile solutions business marks the second major development for Tech Data's mobile business in the past four months. In November, Tech Data bought out the remaining half of TD Mobility, a joint venture in the U.S. that Tech Data formed with mobility distributor Brightstar in 2012; Tech Data first joined forces with Brightstar in 2007 to form a European mobility-focused distributor, dubbed Brightstar Europe.

"We built that mobility business in Europe from the ground up seven years ago," Quaglia said. "And the business has evolved greatly over that time. When we started, it was all about cell phones and carrier plans."

Now Tech Data Mobile Solutions will concentrate on everything from mobile applications and security to even wearable computing devices. Quaglia said creating a separate mobility-focused business gives Tech Data the opportunity to differentiate itself from the competition and also streamline different aspects of mobile solutions under one rough unit.

"With TD Mobility, we gave VARs a means to manage their clients' mobility needs and not pass up those opportunities," Quaglia said, "and this will continue that approach."

Angela O'Donnell, CEO of W. O'Donnell Consulting in New York, said the formation of Tech Data Mobile Solutions was good news for companies like hers that have increased their focus around mobility solutions. "This is a logical move for Tech Data," O'Donnell said. "We're getting a lot of requests from clients about mobile solutions, and managing all of the different pieces -- the carrier plans, the devices, the software -- can be difficult."

O'Donnell said the wireless plans are still a hurdle for solution providers, but she hopes Tech Data Mobile Solutions will help solution providers address issues stemming from wireless carriers.

"We used to sell devices and wireless plans years ago from distributors like Tech Data and carriers like AT&T, but the agent fees were small, the payments were always late, and we could never compete with the direct or retail pricing the carriers offered," O'Donnell said. "So we backed out of that business but we're starting to look at it again because we're intrigued by what Tech Data is doing with TD Mobility. If they can help streamline this part of the business and make it easier to go to market, then it's a huge win for us."

PUBLISHED FEB. 5, 2014