Motorola Executives Call 2013 'Challenging Year' (4/1/14)
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 | Comments

By Michelle Zilis
Many of Motorola Solutions’ top executives addressed 3,000 partners attending the annual Motorola Channel Partner Expo March 24 – 25, admitting challenges in 2013. While the government radio side of the business maintained revenues in 2013, one of the key mantras to the two-day event was how everyone can do better.

“We fell short on executing and growing capacity, but year-over-year comps are high,” said Greg Brown, Motorola CEO and chairman. “This was one of the toughest years, and we should have forecasted better about what we should and could do.”

The company reported full-year sales of $8.7 billion, which is flat to the prior year. Overall North American sales saw a 2 percent decline, but state and local government had a fantastic year, said Mark Moon, executive vice president and president of sales and product operations. Enterprise in Asia grew by double digits, and there was a reported 12 percent growth in Europe. Latin America had a record year for Motorola Astro and TETRA products. It was also a record year in utilities, executives said.

“2013 was a challenging year, but I think we responded in the second half,” said Moon.

Only 22 percent of the North American government partners met their challenges last year, said Jack Molloy, senior vice president, sales, North American Government. “But it was also the second-largest year in partnership history,” he said.

The theme of the expo, “Delivering our promise,” promised partners that Motorola would provide clarity (communicating with everyone), courage (making the decisions and changes that are required) and conviction (with will, determination and resiliency), Brown said.

Executives also acknowledged what they’ve been hearing from dealers. “I think we’re doing better with traction on mission-critical LMR, and I like our customer engagement,” said Brown. “But I think we’re too difficult to do business with.”

“I’ve heard from you that we need to do better,” said Mark Kroh, vice president, North American enterprise sales. “I’ve heard that Motorola has good programs, but you need more clarity, as well as new training and incentives, and communicating how we’re winning.”

The company plans to intensify verticals to increase innovation and make the programs simpler for dealers. There is a high potential in new verticals and emerging markets, and Motorola wants to double down on those opportunities, said Kroh. “We want to be selling with you, not through you,” he said.

Healthcare, education and manufacturing were all mentioned as emerging markets. The company also wants to act like a smaller business. “The best decisions are made closest to the customer,” Moon said.

The digital transition can be seen across all verticals. “These are exciting times, and times of change in the industry,” said Jeff Spaeth, corporate vice president and general manager of radio products and accessories. The benefits of LMR — control, cost, coverage and capacity — are being recognized globally more, he said.

Bridging smartphones and LMR was another big topic at the expo. The bring your own device (BYOD) movement and the pervasiveness of mobility is a good thing because it enlarges the pot, Brown said. The cellular networks can’t offer the hardened, purpose-built networks and devices that dealers can offer.

The decommissioning of the Sprint iDEN network also benefits dealers, executives said. One success story is the adoption of MOTOTRBO for push to talk (PTT) and emergency communications by General Motors (GM) manufacturing plants after briefly trying a commercial carrier system.

In addition to MOTOTRBO Anywhere, executives highlighted the benefits of the recently acquired Twisted Pair solution. “One of the reasons we acquired Twisted Pair was to accelerate the augmentation of LMR with cell capability,” said Spaeth.

“The only real sustainable thing for a business is innovation,” said Paul Steinberg, senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO). “We lead in every technology in every part of the world. We should get in the position to take advantage of mission-critical LTE as it unfolds.”

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