Samsung pursues enterprise users

The handset maker is implementing strategies for selling more phones to enterprise customers

Looking to sell more phones and tablets to enterprises -- and get around Android's reputation as not yet enterprise-ready -- Samsung is developing its own software, helping customers build their own app stores and reworking its sales operation.

Leading the charge is Tim Wagner, who formerly looked after North American business solutions sales for Research In Motion.

"My joining Samsung meant they were making a dramatic shift away from enabling B-to-B sales in existing teams to creating an actual sales team dedicated to the enterprise," Wagner said.

As vice president and general manager of business-to-business sales, Wagner is spurring his sales team to work with operators as well as directly with enterprises. Since operators typically sell phones to enterprises, Samsung wants to make sure the operator sales people are showing enterprise customers Samsung phones.

But it will also work directly with enterprises, offering them support. For instance, it will conduct application workshops and offer pilot programs to potential enterprise customers. Samsung will give a business a handful of tablets or smartphones to try out and help them build an internal app store or even custom apps. "We'll work with SMBs and medium and large enterprise customers to show them how to take advantage of the platform on Samsung," he said.

Samsung is also developing multiple versions of its TouchWiz software, a user interface that runs on top of Android, to meet the needs of different kinds of businesses. Wagner envisions three versions of TouchWiz: good, better and best. The version that turns up on a phone will be dependent on the phone's hardware capabilities.

For instance, top-end handsets with dual-core processors will likely have the "best" version of TouchWiz, which will support AES encryption and VPN. Phones with less power might not have as many security features.

Samsung is working with carriers, which will help determine which handsets get which version of TouchWiz.

Samsung is finding interest in Android among business users. While some kinds of businesses like those in financial services are not warming up to Android because of its lack of security, other verticals like education and hospitality are, Wagner said.

Still, that means that Samsung is competing against other Android phone makers. Motorola has also been working on ways to attract enterprise users, including its recent purchase of 3LM, a developer of mobile device management software.

Wagner said Samsung is working on offering mobile device management capabilities. "It is important for us to evolve our platform and provide our customers with key features like remote device management," he said. "We're headed in that direction. There may be some platform-oriented announcements that show how the Samsung brand is rolling out some of that functionality."

Samsung already partners with Sybase and will also look at other strategic partnerships for device management functionality, he said.

He hinted at other enterprise-focused developments to come from Samsung. In addition to supporting security functions like AES, Samsung is partnering with companies including Cisco for VPN support and Citrix for thin client technology for tablets. Samsung plans to continue forming strategic relationships and hopes to develop capabilities that no one else can offer, he said. "We are progressing toward having something that is strategic from us from a software perspective," he said.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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