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Smartphones Aside, Nokia Wants Your Business

The company's newly launched Business Channel Program expands Nokia's universe with security, mobility, and voice services.

Nokia is committed to becoming more than a cell phone maker, but rather a company that businesses can come to for all their mobility needs from software to networking infrastructure to security.

A year ago it was just a vision. Today, Nokia has more than 750 companies worldwide going through rigorous training and tests to become Nokia's expert partners.

The world's No. 1 cell phone maker launched its Business Channel Program three months ago, providing participating technology companies with resources and financial support to create products and services for businesses interested in deploying mobile devices, infrastructure, and applications. The participants are experts in three technology areas: security (includes tools for intrusion detection and prevention), mobility (includes mobile device management and wireless e-mail services), and voice (includes voice over wireless LANs, or VoWLANs, and cellular).

Nokia says the shift from individually purchased mobile devices to company-purchased devices and the rise of mobile applications has resulted in the need for such expertise. Having a systems integrator or a security expert at hand helps make mobile deployments less overwhelming for IT departments, says John Mason, VP of global channels and operators at Nokia's Enterprise Solutions group.

Businesses can choose one of Nokia's channel partners directly or turn to Nokia's presales team of systems engineers and commercial salespeople who can help them identify partners with expertise they're looking for. In the mobile voice space, for example, Nokia works with Cisco and Avaya to allow businesses to connect smartphones with voice-over-IP PBXs. Using dual-mode phones with Session Initiation Protocol capabilities, people can make and receive calls over both cellular networks and WLANs on and off campus.

Nokia's Business Channel Program participants represent 140 countries and include 30,000 technical support experts and more than 50,000 salespeople. Out of 750 companies, more than 200 are based in the United States.

"We've got a very robust training program," Mason says. In order to become an expert partner, a company has to send its technical and sales staff through a series of tests in different technology areas. "This gives confidence to the end customer that the solution is actually going to be deployed with the level of quality they expect," he says.

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