BlackBerry seeks enterprise stamp for new Passport: Page 2 of 2
By Gabey Goh October 7, 2014
Growth pillars, focus
BlackBerry Singapore's Vernest (pic above) said that the company’s new strategy is centred on four core pillars, the first of which is the enterprise business. It aims to help enterprise customers with their mobility strategy, with an initial focus on security, which is BlackBerry’s strong suit, and beyond that, securing all devices across major OS (operating system) and deployment approaches.
The second pillar is unified communications, or how companies are mobilising both devices and employees, and driving efficiencies in productivity.
Vernest pointed to BlackBerry Messenger, the company’s messaging platform, as one such service the company hopes will continue to enable customers, as well as BBM Protect, which offers a third layer of encryption for customers who want secure messaging capabilities. He also said that new products are in the pipeline and expected to be announced soon.
The third pillar is Project Ion announced in May and a cornerstone of BlackBerry’s vision to offer end-to-end solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT).
“As connectivity costs continue to fall and connected technologies become pervasive, a new market is emerging – the Internet of Things. Billions of connections, generating trillions of transactions and exabytes of data daily, will require platforms that can operate securely on a global scale,” said chief executive Chen, in announcing the initiative.
“No other company is in a better position than BlackBerry to provide the technological building blocks, applications and services needed to enhance productivity, improve real-time decision making, and deliver on the vision of the Internet of Things,” he added.
Project Ion will focus on developing a host of Internet of Things resources, including a secure public application platform that will enable a new generation of IoT applications and securely manage data from millions of end-points across multi-device, multi-platform environments.
BlackBerry's fourth pillar is its devices business, completing the company’s mission to be a full end-to-end provider for enterprises.
Singapore key to SEA success
Citing research from Canalys, Vernest noted that in Singapore, total shipment of smartphones in the second quarter of this year was 1.3 million, a 43% jump from the same quarter last year.
“Of that number, 15% were shipments purchased directly by Singapore businesses,” he said.
With the Passport’s target of mobile professionals, Vernest said that success in the island-nation would be crucial given its status as a tech-savvy regional hub and example-setting role with other South-East Asian markets.
“Quite a few markets look to Singapore. The solutions that businesses here choose to inform their own strategies, so it is critical to get success in this market. I cover the Philippines as well and there is much room for growth in that market,” he added.
Responding to queries by DNA, Forrester Research senior analyst Clement Teo (pic) noted that BlackBerry may have a bit more traction in the enterprise space in Indonesia as it sells sell well in that market despite remaining smaller than competing OSes there.
However, outside Indonesia, BlackBerry will remain marginalised, he said.
Teo said that he wouldn’t classify the company as a “sinking ship” but rather a ship that is steering in a new direction, with more software-driven services, coupled with highly secure devices.
He described Passport as “an interesting product”, with a type keyboard that was missing from the new slew of devices it released in the past couple of years, and boasts more security features – like secure voice.
“It will make sense for those needing tight levels of security, like government departments or companies that are really paranoid about industrial espionage, which might consider it as a supplementary device for a small number of employees.
“Outside of that, perhaps hardcore and loyal fans of the brand would gravitate to the device, but I don't see this device growing the company’s share of the smartphone market,” he added.
BlackBerry was recently named a 'Leader' in the Forrester Wave: Enterprise Mobile Management, Q3 2014 report, which evaluated BlackBerry along with 14 other significant MDM vendors.
According to Forrester Research, “As other vendors have rushed to offer competitive alternatives to BlackBerry’s platform, the company has had to reinvent itself around the characteristics that made it a Leader previously – and its strong commitment to enterprise mobility and security has paid off.”
Vernest said that the BlackBerry still has a lot of loyal customers in the Singapore market and its teams have been focused on facilitating the upgrading process from BES5 to BES10. Globally, the company still has “a strong enterprise base” with a total installed base of 800,000 for BES5 and BES10, he declared.
“MDM is such a fragmented space with a lot of competition with an equally fragmented set-up on the customer-side. Singapore, in particular, is a saturated market and companies keep flip-flopping on which solutions to go with as they can’t quite get the right fit.
“Most people don't realise that BlackBerry does support all major platforms, offers ease of use and a single pane to manage all devices, not to mention the lowest total cost of ownership for MDM for a vendor,” he claimed.
BlackBerry’s approach to garnering a large share of this enterprise mobility pie is centred on a personalised, consultative approach that is also being favoured by many other enterprise vendors.
“On the sales side, we used to just leverage on carrier and distributor partnerships to get our product to customers, but our go-to market strategy is now different – we now have a direct enterprise sales team to augment that channel model.
“The first follow-up is key, where we have an in-depth discussion on mobility strategy and an audit of an organisation’s current assess, and where we can fit in to better enable the business.
“Once we have that discussion and customers see us as a valued partner, if we can establish a strategic partnership; then three to five years out when the Internet of Things really hits its stride, we will be in a good position to help craft strategies for it and securely manage endpoints,” he said.
Vernest claimed that that a few companies were already undergoing trials with BlackBerry’s solutions and while declining to share more details, added that the conversion rate was “strong.”
“The challenge is really that individual sit-downs and how we scale that message out beyond highly-regulated industries which would naturally be drawn to our secured solutions,” he said.
Vernest hinted that an offering targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may soon be a part of the company’s portfolio; he however did not share a timeline for it.
“There are a few key things you need first to have that offering but we’re getting there. We’re focusing on our existing base first and once we have locked that down, we will be looking for traction in the SME space – that’s when you really hit the next level in terms of scale,” he said.
This focus on software and security directed at the enterprise space is a strategy that could very well bear monetary fruit for the company.
“While device sales are still shrinking, enterprise software as a percentage of total revenue, which includes security, has begun to climb based on recent revenues. So the focus is on software and security, which will help drive the fortunes of the ‘new’ BlackBerry,” noted Forrester's Teo.