The Best of BlackBerry World

By  Martha Walz and Jessica Binns — May 10, 2011

Didn’t make it to this year’s BlackBerry World event last week in Orlando? Well, you’re in luck. Keep reading below to get the scoop on conference highlights, BlackBerry news, and what to expect in the world of enterprise mobility.
 
Opening keynote
The general session kicked off Tuesday, May 3, with a 3D presentation by RIM. Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of RIM, discussed the PlayBook and some of the new functionalities that will be coming to the tablet this summer, such as native e-mail for BlackBerry. He also previewed the BlackBerry Bold 9900, which will feature a touchscreen in addition to the traditional BlackBerry keyboard. It will run on BlackBerry 7 OS and include near-field communications to enable mobile payments.
 
In a surprise twist, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, took the stage to discuss Microsoft’s partnership with RIM. Bing is now the preferred default search on BlackBerry devices, and it will be deeply integrated at the OS level going forward. Ballmer also said that although he liked BlackBerry, Windows Phone isn’t going anywhere.
 
All about innovation
Wednesday’s general session covered the topic of innovation. Opening speaker Dean Kamen of DEKA Research and Development Corporation enumerated the many innovations he has brought to market (the Segway, the insulin pump, robotic arms, and portable dialysis machines). He also discussed the FIRST for Robotics competition and our need to spark innovation in future generations.
 
Author Malcolm Gladwell then spoke of how companies can transform into innovative enterprises. He used Fleetwood Mac and their evolution from a no-name ensemble to a legendary band as an example of how greatness does not come overnight. He cited some examples from his book “Outliers” and described the 10,000-Hour Rule, which maintains that one of the keys to success in any field is doing something consistently for 10,000 hours, or approximately 10 years.
 
Gladwell also emphasized that individuals—or companies—who lack outsize talent can make up for it by compensating and innovating. He illustrated his point by listing two groups of NFL quarterbacks with the highest (including Tony Romo and Eli Manning) and the lowest IQs (including Vince Young and Dan Marino), and those in the latter group are among the league’s most successful and decorated players.
 
Mobile office of the future?
In a press briefing, RIM’s Jonathan Wong, project manager of BlackBerry Product Strategy, spoke about the mobile office of the future. The drivers will be: 
  • technology—with new device form factors, virtualization, and cloud computing;
  • environment—with hoteling stations and home offices; and
  • the market—with corporate-liable and individual-liable device management strategies, and cost as a factor.
RIM is looking to leverage BlackBerry as a primary office solution—not only as a mobile device outside the office, but also as the primary device in the office. The problem is that it overlaps with traditional office capabilities. RIM’s solution will combine BlackBerry devices with software and services, apps, virtualization, cloud computing, and BlackBerry Balance, and will eliminate many traditional office capabilities. This solution will help control costs, maintain security, and ease management of all types of devices.
 
David Heit, director of product strategy for RIM, told us that even with the new consumer focus that his company is taking, RIM is not abandoning its enterprise users. BlackBerry Balance will help with the consumerization phenomenon that companies are dealing with. Plus, the PlayBook administration service on top of the BES will enable native e-mail in the PlayBook.
 
App development
BlackBerry developers have a number of useful changes to look forward to. RIM is working to enable chat within third-party apps, allowing BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) users to invite others—while in an application—into a chat. RIM is also focusing on blending social discovery and augmented reality; for example, a BlackBerry device user would be able to point his phone at someone and pick up that person’s BBM info. The accuracy of this kind of technology rests on location and GPS coverage, of course.
 
Right now, 12% of offerings in the BlackBerry App World are native apps, while the rest run Java. RIM’s transition to WebWorks and HTML5 helps enterprises that are frustrated with having to have a dedicated BlackBerry app development team. Companies simply don’t want four different mobile development shops, the developer panel agreed.
 
Kunal Gupta of Polar Mobile says his company developed in Java for BlackBerry smartphones but is developing apps in WebWorks for the PlayBook. He says that the “superapp” concept creates a “stickier user.” For example, 1 in 6 BlackBerry users shared Polar’s FIFA World Cup app last year and Gupta insists he’s never seen that level of sharing on other mobile platforms. Superapps are more robust, reactive, and proactive than regular apps. They can listen for inbound data push, react to device events, and download info even before the user requests it.
 
The new CIO
In a session intriguingly titled “Herding the Cats vs. Wagging the Dog,” Philippe Winthrop of the Enterprise Mobility Foundation mentioned that according to Constellation Research, the acronym “CIO” has evolved beyond simply Chief Information Officer and taken on new meaning. It now stands for:
  • Chief Integration Officer
  • Chief Infrastructure Officer
  • Chief Innovation Officer
  • Chief Intelligence Officer
Now more than ever, CIOs are tasked with weaving myriad technologies and systems together and doing more with less funding. 
 
The future of enterprise mobility
To discuss the future of enterprise mobility, RIM rounded up analysts from IDC, ABI Research, and The 451 Group. The analyst panel pondered such questions as: what happens when an employee releases intellectual property online via social media? What information is being transmitted when you connect with someone via Bluetooth? In our always-on, highly connected world, businesses need to ensure that employees understand corporate policies and practices.
 
But Victoria Fodale, ABI Research’s senior analyst for mobile devices, says, “People aren’t just work or just personal; you can’t control them via a policy or technology.” She cited research indicating that 68% of companies have policies that allow employees to bring in their own devices, while a third don’t have any policy at all.
 
IDC program director for mobile devices and technology trends William Stofega says some devices that employees want to bring to work simply don’t have the functionality to enable applications and productivity, and IT needs to be mindful of this. In terms of device management, the corporate-liable device management model is at a standstill, he says. However, an informal poll of the room showed that about 70% to 80% of attendees’ companies still follow the corporate-liable device management model, while 20% to 30% are fully individual-liable.
 
Chris Hazelton, The 451 Group’s research director for mobile and wireless, cited a financial company that doesn’t want to own the devices its employees use, but wants to silo and encrypt certain information on the device. In essence, the enterprise wants to “own an instance of the device,” he explains. Fodale agrees that enterprises increasingly will install virtual clients on business devices to enable a sandbox and segregate personal and corporate data.
 
Hazelton stresses that enterprises that offer their applications via public app stores potentially can give away competitive information about their business; a competitor can find and copy that company’s app.
 
Mobile trends
We also discussed mobile trends with many of the vendors in attendance. Todd Christy, President and CTO, Pyxis Mobile, and Chris Willis, EVP of Pyxis Mobile, see HTML5 growing in popularity over the next few years. Keith Halasy senior marketing manager at TeleNav sees an increase in connected devices and the rise of the M2M space. That was echoed by Mark Gentile, President and CEO of Odyssey Software.
 
Kevin Cavanaugh, IBM’s VP of mobile collaboration, sees social business as one of the next big things and believes the form factor of tablet PCs such as the PlayBook will help to drive social business collaboration in the enterprise. “Social business is a phenomenon,” Cavanaugh says. “Tablets and mobile devices allow for on-the-fly content creation that is the hallmark of social business.”

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