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Understanding Motorola's New Strategy

Motorola's fission into Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions six months in.

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Motorola spun out into two Motorola companies—Motorola Mobility (MMI)1 and Motorola Solutions (MSI)2—six months ago. Both carry the ‘Moto’ name. They do leverage some mutual technologies, but from there they couldn’t be more different.

This article will focus on Motorola Solutions. Although Moto’s mobility business is interesting to many, our readership is the B2B market—the solutions business’s market. So we will focus on that. In a one day meeting in Schaumburg, IL, we met with the CEO, Greg Brown, and key executives to get the unfolding of MSI’s raison d’etre, as well as future R&D and directions.3

But First, the Distinctions

Motorola Mobility (MMI) focuses on the consumer business—mobile devices, wireless accessories, set-top boxes, and video distribution systems products, much of which is sold through channels such as Verizon and AT&T, as well as electronics retailers and like partner-networks around the world. 

Motorola Solutions (MSI), on the other hand, is really a B2B company focused on government and enterprise sales. Their core is Advanced Data Capture—devices used in this space such as RFID, bar-coding, scanning, radio, emerging sensing technologies and the like; services, creating and managing private (voice and data) networks (a huge growing market unto itself); and the software applications that run within the network to power public sector mission-critical applications.

Of course an MMI smart phone or droid device like the cool Xoom will be the preferred product platform for MSI if they need to provide customized services for their customers, but MSI is not in the business of writing that next cool app that your kids (and you, admit it) will download.

As Greg Brown, Chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions told us, “Think of us as the ‘remainco’,” after the cell/mobility business was spun out or sold off, “the traditional roots of Motorola, such as the radio business,” plus the scanning/auto ID business that they bought from Symbol. Clearly, they thought a lot about these distinctions as Greg continued to discuss MSI’s focus on mission-critical communications, rather than on consumers. This means government—Defense, First/Emergency Responders, Police, Security, etc.

Another aspect of the distinction—MMI is an $11B business that has been losing money and ground to other players in the smart phone market and hopes to mastermind a turnaround. Whereas, MSI is an $8B, profitable and growing business, with a strong brand in existing markets and significant growth opportunities in the sectors and applications they service. (You can hear more from Greg Brown on their current financial performance in this CNBC interview.)

Motorola Solutions is in a great position to gain greater market share in the explosion of mobile data and voice, as they migrate from the internet to the mobile platform.

So, let’s walk through major elements on the new Motorola Solutions.

Motorola Global Services

Here is an area laden with opportunity for Motorola Solutions. With current interest in the market to create, extend, or improve networks; and to refresh and modernize mobile installations from retail to the military, Motorola is in a good place. With over 6,100 service professionals, Global Services provides assessments, installations, and break fix. As well, they provide ultra-hosting and managed services, monitoring the private networks from police forces around the world; and retail floor ticketing and bar-coding applications. Tall order, but it all makes sense. However, there is a distinction here, too, as they told us, “We are not IBM Global Solutions,” an anything for anybody consulting organization. Staying focused on what can make you the top one or two in expertise in your market is essential to successfully delivering results.

Today we seek the network that links devices and people to an interoperable network to share voice and data in a holistic way. We need services based on global standards that cross from IP to mobile networks. In Motorola's network of partnerships with cell carriers and their leverage of a variety of communication bands puts them in a prominent position to present their customers with that holistic solution. As Motorola makes these solutions work, enterprises don’t have to deal with those issues.   

The managed services option should be a real growth opportunity for Motorola since, in ChainLink surveys, users repeatedly tell us they want to have 3rd parties manage these environments for them. And Bruce Bruda, VP of Global Services, confirmed this when he said, “It was our customers asking us to do more. Don’t just build this for us, but can you manage it for us?” And the more turn-key this becomes, and MSI becomes not just a network ‘hoster,’ but an organization that can handle a wide range of services with intimate knowledge of the technology, the more attractive the proposal looks.


Although the government sector is the largest sector for Motorola, more rapid growth is coming from enterprise, especially Retail. They already have a strong presence in the enterprise market in key sectors such as Manufacturing, Transportation and Retail, Hospitality, Energy, and Life Sciences. And Motorola is responding to retailer demand for more intelligent solutions (beyond bar-coding) with digital displays, RFID, and mobile sales associate systems. (More to come in retail applications in the fall.)

Innovation Vision

With over $1B spent each year in R&D, the vision painted by Paul Steinberg, Motorola Solutions CTO, was most fascinating. At the end of the day, in high tech, the one-two punch of innovation and sales is the core of success. (I’ll get to sales next.)

Core to his messages was the issue of ‘cognitive overload.’ The complexity of information channels—internet, mobile, data, voice; how it’s all presented—graphics, videos, pictures, reports, or real-time, create this cognitive overload. (I would agree!) We are in sensory overload.

Typical users may be sitting in offices looking at scenes or reading reports. But add just one more dimension and you are now in a critical zone, an emergency, requiring situational awareness—a 360° view and beyond—in real-time. Then, you need to create an intelligent, well-reasoned response to your situation—in two seconds. The multi-dimensional sensory world is providing input all around. Yes, you must provide an intelligent response. But how can you process it? And how will technology support that response?

Whether to doctors, police officers, military personnel, or first responders, how can technology aid this real-time, critical, often life-impacting, decision-making? With technology aided advice or support: technologically advanced sensing, backed-up by algorithms that provide context and allow rapid analysis. This is fascinating territory, requiring superior technology and ultra-high speed communications capability.

As advanced data collection systems search data bases and multi-dimensional data—both analog and digital—many of us have said, “It's about the data.” Well we’ve got that. And advanced analytical engines are learning to synthesize and provide these higher reasoning solutions.

But think about all that running on mobile—not internet—communications. Mastering the interoperable world and learning to optimize critical communications is key for mission critical users—those in the public service sector. They’re not about to tolerate a ‘bad cell zone.’ Again, managing these optimized environments is an historic capability for Motorola.

There will be much more to talk about here, as Motorola formalizes some exciting announcements about new generations of technology. We got a great sneak preview at their advance technology center, but, alas, we have to hold off on that for a little while.


Motorola has done an astounding job of covering their global territory, not just with a strong direct sales team, but a truly impressive award winning sales channel (of 25,000) program. Extending their reach through a well thought out channel strategy that puts in place the right support and grooming to make the channels successful is critical in the target rich world of the many markets they serve. This has been the key to their success in markets such as retail and manufacturing, for example, where even the smallest enterprise needs some auto-id/data capture technology.


Why is Motorola Solutions in a great position now? Think of this critical fundamental fact. Various forecasts place the growth of mobile data demand at 2000% over the next five years. Business applications—both voice and data—are exploding.

And the preferred platform is mobile—all sorts of interoperable devices that can provide anything from two-way talk to video conferencing on these small, smart devices. Application creation, the provisioning and securing of software, managing networks, and the assurance that all the critical parts perform as they should—all this is now the sweet spot for Motorola Solutions. Few players can provide this fully integrated approach.

Motorola’s philosophy is ‘looking from the outside in,’ that is, envisioning the needs of the customer now and in the future, as well as thinking about changing the game. Their innovation is bringing not just ever-more adaptable devices to the market, but the intelligence and analytics to support their users’ actual use-case.

And with demand high, Motorola Solutions should find itself an even bigger, more profitable and innovative company over the next few years.


1 Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc.
Libertyville, IL United States  •  (NYSE: MMI )

2 Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Schaumburg, IL United States  •  (NYSE: MSI )

3 MSI was very open with us, under NDA, about many exciting new products under development. So, we will update you as we are given permission to discuss them.

To view other articles from this issue of the brief, click here.


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