The recent announcement that Lenovo is planning to throw their hat in the BlackBerry fire-sale ring has caused a flurry of commentary in newspaper business columns and blog posts – and the noise is not likely something that will help the weary mobile phone maker in either the short or the long term.
BlackBerry has been hanging on by their fingertips while its once dominant position in the global market has eroded. While a large percentage of loyal customers have abandoned BlackBerry for other device-makers, there has been a hard-core group of CIO’s who value the encryption and security of the proprietary BlackBerry network, continuing to rely on the device-maker for secure mobile communications. IT teams love BlackBerry: stable, secure, reliable and Canadian – eh!
Enter Lenovo – a foreign buyer headquartered in China. With a signed non-disclosure in place, they are ready to start sniffing through the BlackBerry books to try and figure out what pieces will make them money. And while BlackBerry is spending its time courting potential buyers, it is not focusing on the kind of product innovation that sustained them as a market leader for over a decade. In a world where users replace mobile devices as often as Jim Balsillie tries to buy hockey teams, the hard cold fact is innovate or die.
For remaining BlackBerry clients – especially governments and large enterprise organizations – the prospect of Chinese ownership of networks running their sensitive data is not something that will play well into corporate strategy. As I see from our clients of late, it looks like BlackBerry will continue to have clients look to other platforms and devices to support their mobile needs.
As access to data from mobile devices becomes even more critical for corporations, if BlackBerry is not going to be around (or at least not going to be around in a way that CIO’s can trust). The question that organizations need to answer is less about management, security and access, and more about the end user experience.
For the past two years the mobile buzz word was around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Today that word and that concept is yet another acronym. BYOD has been a technical issue to deal with by the IT community; with not much input into the business value side of things. The real issue today is about user experience. How is your user community accessing information and interacting in a mobile world? Because if it is not easy to do, it is not happening. And that’s the new reality.
In non IT terms, the word safe meant you put something you value into a fixed location strong box and did not let it out. Clients don’t want that kind of safe for their mobile communications and collaboration.
If you are planning to innovate by delivering applications that are available on any device, anywhere and anytime, you better make sure your teams know how to use them. That means re-assessing your mobile strategy and making user experience as important as every other factor.
End user experience is what sells. Look at Apple’s approach to the simple, yet effective experience.
Blackberry just announced BBM for IOS and Android. More vendors are now rebranding themselves as services companies as a way to evolve their business. You might have an app for that, but you just gave your clients a reason to move on.
BlackBerry. You’re not dead yet; but you have us concerned. And while it’s not the fairy-tale ending any of us hoped for, in Canada survival surmounts loyalty every time.