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Nokia channel chief flags private wireless opportunities

The time is right for those pitching the technology, as more customers start to see the benefits and the channel begins generating successful case studies

Nokia is indicating to its channel base that one of the opportunities to focus on in 2023 will be private wireless.

The comms player has a wide channel, covering distributors, SIs and VARs, and has seen interest in its networking portfolio expand with the explosion of hybrid working.

Nathan Stenson, head of Nokia’s global channel business, said the channel was instrumental to delivering its portfolio, “its private wireless ... optical networking, datacentre switching [and] top of rack switching”.

“We have around 1,500 out there already across all of those [different partner] segments,” he said. “We already represent a significant part of the global enterprise business today – because, of course, the channel is there to be a force multiplier for Nokia’s enterprise business ambitions, both in going faster with geographic scope and from a market reach perspective.”

Stenson added that Nokia was looking to work with more global system integrators, but they needed to have networking expertise, particularly around edge networking, as well as a leader for the relationship.

The door is also open to VARs that have the right mix of attributes. “We want to talk to more partners and recruit, but those that have the right DNA and the right situational set of circumstances make partnering with us make sense,” he said.

Where Nokia is experiencing growth is around private wireless, with the firm generating case studies of work done with the channel to meet specific customer needs, and that should encourage further activity.

Absolute business outcome

Stenson added: “Private wireless is quite a big thing for us, because it can do some stuff that some other networking technology can’t. It allows solution-based outcomes with enterprise customers using our partner and direct channel to bring it to the fore.

“Private wireless is something new, and something that is bringing new answers across a number of different verticals,” he said. “I could point to case studies and use cases we have in all of [our] partner segments.

“It’s time, the bringing together of IT and OT, the bringing together of a network and the operating technology in a given vertical that starts to produce real business outcomes: this is what our partners want to explore. This is what they’re leveraging and this is resonating with enterprise customers that are looking for these kinds of networking solutions – and, more importantly, these kinds of business outcomes.”

Given the encouragement to pitch private wireless and some of the other edge networking technologies in the Nokia portfolio, Stenson is expecting the channel to have a solid year, despite the well-known economic headwinds.

“I’m very optimistic because I believe businesses will continue to need to look to technology and into the broader digitisation of their business processes – their interactions interlock with all of the entities in their own operating ecosystem, [so they need to] develop efficiencies across those to continue to compete,” he said.

"We have to continue to do right by our partners by making sure we have all the tools, efficiencies and education – all the things you expect from the overall enablement,” said Stenson. “That is our responsibility to our partner channel.”

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