Everyone knows what 2013 means to BlackBerry. So with the launch of BlackBerry 10, three devices — Z10, Q10, Q5 — a platform update to 10.1 and 125,000+ apps, the company is certainly trying to stay true to its BB10 mantra of ‘keeping things moving.’
Mobile Enterprise attended BlackBerry Live, the company’s annual conference, and heard the answer to a question many are still asking (despite this momentum and Q1 results): why BlackBerry?
During a press session at BBLive, Peter Devenyi, SVP of Enterprise Software for BlackBerry was asked: How do you sell this to CIOs? “We have truly made the deployment and upgrade experience as easy as possible, and offer a single plane of glass that provides an intuitive management tool,” he replied. “The security model built into the solution, is not just for BlackBerry, but now extended to third party devices. Thirdly, we provide a world-class support experience for BlackBerry as well as a complete line of support for third-party devices. It’s a one-stop shop.”
This must be convincing enough, as, according to Devenyi “90% of the Fortune 500 continues to rely on BlackBerry everyday.” (Meaning those who actively use BlackBerry in their businesses, according to a company spokesperson.) He said, “We are thrilled in the uptick, and just how rapidly our customer base is moving to the new platform; 12,000 BES 10 servers have been installed globally.”
Still, it’s hard to know how meaningful this is when there is no number assigned to the 90%. BlackBerry does not provide such data. Perhaps some insight is gained from what Devenyi said next: “In the next several months, we expect to see that number grow and grow. Over time, we fully expect everyone to migrate. We have made it easy for them, but it is going to take some time.”
While these numbers are a bit cryptic and the comments around both a rapid and slow move to the new platform can be confusing, the execs on the panel were very clear about the case for BlackBerry.
Devenyi pointed out that nothing is more secure than a BlackBerry device running in a BlackBerry environment. Scott Totzke, SVP, BlackBerry Security added, “Security is woven into everything we do.” This is backed up with a level of transparency, he said, as they company has “long subscribed to Trust by Verify for independent validation.” He believes that this acts as further proof to customers that “we actually deliver.”
Security for BlackBerry starts where customers can’t even see it — in the supply chain — with silicon personalization and embedded checks and balances throughout the manufacturing process. The result being a complete security model and hardware, software and services are working together to ensure that only authentic devices can connect to the corporate infrastructure. He said, “This is unlike anything else in the business — you must have all three working together — or it’s next to impossible to deliver a full secure solution you can rely on. It’s the fabric of what we do.”
Totzke said that this level and type of security is also the foundation of what will move BlackBerry into the next realm of mobile computing. “As Thorsten said yesterday, there is potential to unlock different ways of computing and interacting — person to person, machine to machine, person to machine — and they will all need a high degree of security. BB10 is designed to securely enable mobile computing and bring this new experience to the user with Balance. Over next couple years BlackBerry will evolve this more,” he said.
Speaking of balance, BlackBerry Balance, the container feature that separates work and personal, is an evolution unto itself. Totzke explained that BlackBerry’s approach to security has transformed to meet the market conditions. “In the past it’s been about putting limits and constraints on a platform, and that diminished the user experience. With BlackBerry Balance we changed the game and made security a strategic enabler. You don’t have to compromise the UX in order to protect the data.”
A consumer-style approach is becoming a bigger industry trend as users expect the same experience at work and play. Totzke called Balance part of “the consumer use case.” In fact, IT is starting to care less about what actually happens with personal use on a device, so long as they can prevent it from mingling with corporate info.
Jeff Holleran, Senior Director, Enterprise Product Management took that point a little further. He said most businesses are not focusing on the solution per se, nor are they thinking about personal data. They focus on their own corporate data and protecting it.
In fact, he took the device out of the hand of the enterprise and put it in the employee’s. “Balance is so that the device can belong to the end user, who can then delegate part of that device to the enterprise for control. Users get the experience and the one view they want, and don’t realize the difference, and IT and controls and manages under the hood.”
Security and Balance — all this is a “significant differential” that customers understand, according to Devenyi, but at the same time the company realized that it’s a BYOD world. They “listened” to the customers to make sure they created “the best mobility management solution that supports the devices that are of interest to them.” He affirmed that they are committed to being the “premier” mobile management platform. “We bring the BlackBerry special sauce to the table that allows us to manage any device securely, and better than anyone else can,” he said.
On top of the sauce, Holleran suggests policy and making sure all BYOD processes are in place. BYOD can be something that causes a lot of challenges if it is not well thought out, and he noted that the last thing IT wants to do is leave the user with a bad last impression by wiping personal data. Balance, of course, makes this easy according to Holleran, who also suggested, “Have a solid contract in place between end user and organization not just for when they enter the organization but upon exit too.”
What about the Competition?
Government agencies and financial institutions that need the highest level of security are well-known BlackBerry only shops. However, the Department of Defense recently approved Apple and Samsung devices for use as well. In light of this major change, is BlackBerry concerned?
Totzke said that Blackberry is also approved in the Pentagon space and noted that they are the only vendor that provides all capabilities out of the box to manage and deploy the hardware, services and the infrastructure. He said, “All the other vendors are relying on third parties for these requirements…We have a complete solution.”
Devenyi also pointed to BlackBerry’s legacy of support as a major advantage over the rest of the market. “It’s as important as the products to the customers, he said. “They [customers] are having a hard time getting the level of support from competitors as they do with BlackBerry, and now our support extends to the other devices.”