Executive Column: BlackBerry to renew focus on enterprise market
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry has been struggling to turn its cash flow to neutral or positive and aims to regain its market share, which has been eroded by rivals iOS and Android-based devices. During a recent visit to Indonesia, BlackBerry's president for global enterprise solutions, John Sims, spoke to The Jakarta Post's Khoirul Amin about his company's strategy to achieve its aim by focusing on the enterprise market. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
Question: How pivotal is the enterprise market for BlackBerry?
Answer: I have an analogy. If you are walking downstairs and you stumble, you grab for the handrail to stabilize yourself.
In the case of BlackBerry, with the troubles the company had over the last couple of years before John Chen took over, that was our stumble. The handrail is the focus on enterprise.
So, when you have stumbled, you have to bring your focus back, and the focus for us is the enterprise market, the professional consumer market and the middle consumer market. We have been spending a lot more time on our customers, listening to them and understanding what their challenges are and then formulating how we can help them solve their problems.
I can tell you from the company's point of view that the enterprise business is one of the primary and key focus areas for the company as we take it through a transformation. It is one of the key areas that we are looking at as we work to grow the company's revenues over the next couple years and beyond.
If you look at BlackBerry's presence in the enterprise market, if you look at our global customer base, you can add up three competitors combined and they do not match our size.
So, we are by far the number one player in managing enterprise mobility for our customers, particularly customers in what we call the regulated industry; those who care a lot about security, privacy and so on.
So, that is one of the primary areas where we will find success.
Which enterprise sector in the country has been the largest revenue contributor for BlackBerry?
I think it is true globally and it is true in individual markets like Indonesia. The focus, first of all, is we have very close partnerships with mobile operators. They are important customers and a channel for us to the market, so we work with them.
But then, working with financial services companies would probably be one of the largest segments that we would address ['¦] and then beyond that, other regulated industries and the government as well.
If you look globally at BlackBerry, our largest industry is government, where globally we still have a very strong presence within governments, financial services, health care, energy companies, and manufacturing companies.
Globally, we have more than 70,000 enterprises using our BlackBerry enterprise server, which is the most used of any of our enterprise products. And those [the enterprises] tend to be major corporations ' generally large companies.
How will BlackBerry tap deeper into Indonesia's enterprise market?
Our strategy is to continue to expand the capability of our best server, our BlackBerry enterprise server. For example, we have a new release that is coming out in November, and in addition to supporting iOS and Android, BlackBerry will also support Windows Phone.
So, we are expanding the number of platforms for varied use, we are expanding capability, we are making it a much more scalable platform. We are also enabling it to be used in the cloud as well as on premises ['¦] we call them value-added services, additional enterprise-focused, value-added services.
For example, with BlackBerry Messenger [BBM], we have taken BBM and we have created a version specifically for enterprises, called BBM Protected. We launched that in June and then we expanded it in August, and we will expand it again before the end of the year. BBM Protected allows secure chat inside the enterprise and it allows those chats to be locked.
We will [also] soon be launching something called BBM Meetings. It is a service that allows voice and video conferences for groups of about 25 people.
It will initially be launched as an enterprise service this year and we will also expand it to the consumer market sometime next year ['¦] It will have a presence on BlackBerry devices, iOS and Android. It will be on tablets and we will also have a desktop version.
Nowadays, a lot of companies implement a 'bring your own device [BYOD]' policy for their employees to follow. In some cases, they opt for non-BlackBerry devices. How does your company deal with this issue?
The BlackBerry device is one of the best devices for multiple usage: for corporate and personal use. It can be used either for personal purposes or corporate work. The company allows its employees to have the freedom to use the device for personal purposes or work. We call that the 'cop' model.
BlackBerry devices are ideal for that ['cop' model]. With BlackBerry's balance, we have the ability to split a device into the work perimeter and the personal perimeter.
We also support that for iOS and Android devices as well, through an offering we call 'secure work space'.
Secure work space allows us to create a secure perimeter on iOS and Android devices, and we enable corporate use inside the secure perimeter, while the device can also be used for personal purposes outside the secure perimeter.
And the BlackBerry enterprise server, which is a key piece of technology that is installed in a large number of enterprises globally, allows companies to manage those devices, to make sure which applications can be run on the corporate sites, how data is managed on the corporate site, how a typo is planned and so on.
So, we are doing a lot to enable BYOD, but we also see a lot of customers who want to retain the use of so-called 'cop' devices, corporate-issued devices, but that allow for personal use as well.
Does BlackBerry have any specific focus to help it stand out among competitors in the country's enterprise market?
I will tell you that there is a very strong demand for keyboard-based technology from BlackBerry, and we have already announced ' in the enterprise business in particular ' there are two more devices coming this year: the Passport [recently launched in London, UK], which is a larger-size tablet, and the Classic.
The BlackBerry Classic will arrive here by the end of the year, and both of them are QWERTY keyboard devices.
So, I think we have also been quite clear that we see the keyboard as one of BlackBerry's key differentials. It is not that we won't launch touchscreen devices; we have of course with the Z3, which was launched here [in Indonesia], and combination [keyboard-touchscreen devices], but the keyboard will feature prominently in the future. We are clear on that.
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