I spent most of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in the office that BlackBerry had reserved in one of the towers adjacent to the trade show. I have to confess that I was glad I could avoid having to go through the huge crowd that visited the trade show. We heard that more than 80,000 people attended this year’s edition. The intensity and scale of the show speaks for the intensity of the mobile industry. Attendees were from every country, region (and probably even planet) you could possibly imagine. The organizers and the city of Barcelona have to be congratulated for coping quite effectively and successfully with such a massive venue.
This being said, the purpose of this blog was more to share with you the time we spent with the BlackBerry team. We met a lot of the executive management and had the opportunity to take a step back after the launch of our partnership. Most importantly, this represents more than 60 projects of GSX Monitor & Analyzer for BES12 since the beginning of the year. In other words, this is a follow-up of my earlier post on “BlackBerry has a strategy”.
- BlackBerry has assets and IP which are not all physical: the BES Suite is on my iPad and iPhone (and my Passport but given that BlackBerry is device agnostic, this does not really matter). I access my email via Secure Work Space; web links open in the secure browser. The BBM interface is a bit bloated, but BBM Meetings is very simple and stable.The reality is that the enterprise software at BlackBerry is not limited to a simple MDM solution. There is a coherent suite of products that fits well in the industry and play on BlackBerry’s strength. BlackBerry CEO John Chen did a press conference that spoke about all the upcoming devices. The press likes devices; enterprise software does not make newspapers’ front pages, but we in the IT industry understand why it matters. And now, BlackBerry has real software to address the enterprise market.
- BlackBerry has people: It is striking that the Executive Management all come from Sybase. They get software, they really get it. Some of the former pre-John Chen BlackBerry-ites (is this a word?) may get it, but some will not. I was at IBM when Louis Gerstner replaced John Akers. Some guys got it, some believed that the mainframe renaissance was around the corner. There are many parallels with today’s BlackBerry. The turnaround will both come from products as well as changing the employees’ mentality. But what is most striking is that the new guys really get it.
- BlackBerry has momentum: All of this needs to be translated into action. BlackBerry closed its fiscal year in February. A big part of the work of the enterprise team was focusing in the EZ-Pass program and migrating from BES5 and BES10 to BES12. They are now entering the real active phase of pilots of BES12. But what difference can three months make? Back then, many of the people who I discussed this with associated BlackBerry to a declining family of devices that they wanted to phase out. There is now a much greater understanding of the value of BES12 and the emerging software suite. I cannot say more but many large pilots are taking place as we speak and we are involved in many projects all around the world (and I am writing these lines from Singapore …)
It takes time for companies to adopt new enterprise software so it will take maybe a couple of quarters for the scale of the efforts to bear fruit. But as someone who has made a conscious bet on BlackBerry’s turnaround, let me tell you that while there is much to do, I am in no way regretting my decision.