Channel Chief: Lars Schmermbeck, Senior Director, Channel for EMEA, Zebra Technologies
Lars Schmermbeck, Senior Director, Channel for EMEA, Zebra Technologies

Channel Chief: Lars Schmermbeck, Senior Director, Channel for EMEA, Zebra Technologies

Lars Schmermbeck, Senior Director, Channel for EMEA, Zebra Technologies, outlines how the Zebra PartnerConnect programme makes it easier for partners to work with Zebra and differentiate themselves, while also rewarding partners for commitment, competency and performance.

Describe your current job role and a summary of the business model of your organisation?

I’m Senior Director, Channel for the EMEA region of Zebra Technologies. I lead strategy, sales and relationships across distributors, hardware resellers, independent software vendors and alliance partners.

Zebra and our partners give a performance edge to the front line of business. Zebra’s PartnerConnect Program is a flexible program that is focused on our partners’ business model whether they are reselling, distributing, influencing, integrating or developing solutions. Zebra and its network of more than 10,000 partners across 100 countries innovate industry-tailored solutions for the enterprise edge.

The channel continues to play a strategically vital role in Zebra’s route to market strategy – extending Zebra’s reach to better serve customers and now representing more than 93% of Zebra’s revenue in EMEA.

What are your strengths and abilities that you bring to the above role?

I have over 25 years of experience in B2B technology, with more than 19 years specialised in the channel. Prior to Zebra, I held roles with Motorola Business Solutions, Symbol Technologies and Robert Bosch, so I bring substantial experience and insight to the role with a lot of understanding and a wide network across different types of partners in different countries and industry verticals.

I would also say that I’m part of a wider team and company and very often it’s about bringing the abilities and strengths of other teams and people together to achieve a goal because teamwork is key. Mutual trust and understanding channel economics and health to drive joint business planning are also important skills I bring. The technology channel is still a people business where relationships matter.

Please describe the opportunities and challenges that exist for channel partners in your market?

The pace of digitisation across industries continues without slowing. Businesses need solutions to help them modernise, automate and meet demand. The on-demand economy, e-commerce, labour hiring and retention and legislation are all driving the need for technology solutions.

These drivers present Zebra and partners with the challenges faced by our customers and the opportunity to find solutions to help them. We are also supporting industries to thrive in a world that is increasingly putting the pandemic and subsequent supply chain challenges behind them. Customer challenges and opportunities become our challenges and opportunities.

Additionally, the pace of innovation in technology means Zebra and partners have new, useful solutions to bring to customers, including robotics, machine vision and AI-powered software for demand forecasting, workforce and task management.

Which technologies and innovations can make a difference to the channel market dynamics in the near future?

Zebra is well known for its range of desktop printers, enterprise mobile computing and data capture solutions around barcode scanning. These technologies are still in great demand across industries and Zebra products are tried and tested, reliable and get the job done.

In terms of innovations, Zebra has increasingly moved into retail software, machine vision and robotics automation. We acquired a number of companies including Adaptive Vision, Reflexis,, Fetch Robotics and Matrox Imaging, to expand and enrich our portfolio and offerings to customers.

These innovations are reflected in current and new relationships with partners and new advanced tier machine vision, SaaS and mobile robotics partner specialisation tracks. Our focus is not just technology, but also how we engage with our end-customers to get a better understanding of their problems and bring a holistic view of the whole situation, while offering a real business outcome for the end-customer.

How can a channel partner disrupt the regional market and gain a leading competitive position?

I’d encourage potential channel partners to talk to me and our teams locally. Our Zebra PartnerConnect program makes it easier for partners to work with Zebra and differentiate themselves while rewarding partners for commitment, competency and performance.

Zebra’s PartnerConnect program is focused on opportunity, profitability and simplicity for channel partners and has been designed to accomplish three strategic goals: encourage and enable sales across the entire product, services and solutions portfolio; reward and support partners differently based on their business model and growth strategy; and develop new market opportunities and profitable revenue streams.

Which aspects of your job role do you find rewarding and challenging?

Growing current channel relationships, creating new relationships and working with channel partners on solutions customers want and need are all top rewards for me. I also lead lots of teams and support career development, sharing experience and helping newer members of the team and those early in their careers to thrive is also rewarding. The most important part of my role that is equally rewarding and challenging is leading projects together with different teams to prepare Zebra for future growth.

How do you best like to de-stress and re-charge after work?

Even though I travel a lot for work, my main de-stresser and way of re-charging outside work is my wonderful family – my wife and our two daughters and two sons. We like to spend time together travelling, playing sports and, for me personally, I like to run and cycle as a way to stay fit.

How do you think time-off will transform in the metaverse and in the digital world?

I think video game consoles provide an interesting comparison. We’ve moved from passive sitting positions with handheld controllers to much more interactive ways to play a game and keep fit that involves the whole body, with incredible graphics and audio to match. I think we’ll see something similar with the metaverse. Right now, the focus is on headsets but I think we’ll see new ways to engage with the metaverse beyond a headset and that’ll open the door to things like travelling, artistic pursuits and playing sports in the metaverse in a way that looks and feels more real and authentic.

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