How BlackBerry is defending its enterprise stronghold

By Simon Sage on 6 Mar 2014 08:59 am EST

At Mobile World Congress, we caught up with John Sims, the president of enterprise at BlackBerry. He filled us in on how BlackBerry is currently defending its leadership in the sphere of business mobility.

BBM is becoming a bigger part of the enterprise picture for BlackBerry, but that doesn't mean the more consumer-focused updates don't trickle over. For example, the recent update to BBM for Android that included support for Gingerbread boosted non-BlackBerry activations 40% the next day.

The biggest way BBM Protected can help businesses, says Sims, is in terms of security and compliance. That means providing high-end encryption for BBM messages, and providing detailed logging of conversations (or not, as the industry demands). Medical is obviously one of the major use cases for this kind of product, but BlackBerry's not going at it alone.

"We have ongoing active discussions with partners in the industry that are trying to make that happen, and really create a whole new healthcare paradigm, particularly in the US."

He went on to say that we'll see more partnerships of this type in the app space. Sims also hinted that future BlackBerry devices will "fit very nicely in some of those industry segments". To me that sounds like a super-secure, cameraless device to combat the likes of the Blackphone, but go ahead and let your imagination chew on the idea for a bit. Besides BBM, Sims highlighted the central NOC infrastructure as a key differentiating technology for BlackBerry, but they need to find new ways to leverage it.

Sims talked to us a lot about morale and attitude, both within the company and on the outside. It's been an uphill battle to hang onto IT administrators, even the loyalists. "It was a harsh reality, going from BES 5 to BES 10," said Sims, but the goal is to provide a high-quality and seamless transition when BES 12 rolls around, and many business BlackBerry customers are willing to wait until it's ready to make the upgrade. He described their plight as defending a bunker against an onslaught of demands, but they were running out of ammunition to use. BlackBerry wanted to feed them ammunition, but they also have provide air support by talking directly with CIOs.

As for external interactions, Sims remains hopeful. "As much as our brand has been tarnished in the last year or so, it's still a brand that people recognize." Sims was also quick to talk about how much the employees appreciated BlackBerry's more aggressive stance towards anyone attacking BlackBerry, be it a direct competitor like Samsung, an indirect competitor like Good, or supposed partner like T-Mobile.

"It's not like we want to go pick fights with everybody, but when we feel like we're wronged, we're not just going to sit there and take it."

In terms of BlackBerry employees dedicated to sales, Sims described an internal shift from device specialists (since it used to be the devices sold the BES) to ones that had broad knowledge of how to deal with business users and selling a full end-to-end experience.

If there's anything Sims said that makes us feel confident about BlackBerry's future, it's this.

"I've worked with John [Chen] previously, at SAP. We make decisions on things. We look at situations, and we make decisions.Our general feeling is if you let it linger, the decision doesn't get any easier or any better. In fact, it might go the opposite way. It's better to weigh out the facts and then get moving."

Reader comments

How BlackBerry is defending its enterprise stronghold


How about fixing the delays first. Instant messaging should not take 24 hours to be received from a BlackBerry device to an android device.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10

Yez ziiiir!

Posted via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA (Only T-Mo rep still pushing)  ‎BlackBerry Q10...SON! (Soon to be the almighty Z30!)

Hopefully this works out for them. I know a ton of businesses who have switched to ios and Windows phone already. Hopefully blackberry can get them back.

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I like that slogan "There's good security, then there's national security"...

Crackberry or the inside of what looks like a meeting room shouldn't be the only places to see that message though... They need to get that OUT THERE. On TV, on the web, wherever they can...

I'm starting to have concerns about marketing again under this new regime... haven't seen much change in that department.

There won't be any huge marketing dollar spent at the moment. When things are closer to maturity (ready to be "coming soon"), they will make themselves heard.

Give it a few months, at least till the new flagship phones. My take.

iPhone for me? Scr... ahem Q that! (posted from the latter)

I would like to know more, about defending enterprise...currently I'm working for Cisco (in europe) and everyone is slowly pushed to Apple. When I asked when certain apps will be available on BB10 devices, answer was: Because of uncertain future of BB platform, development is on hold and in the meantime - migration to iPhone is recommended.

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Who was giving that response? Cisco internally, app development, or someone else?

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I asked via internal channels

+ It was mentioned several times, that migration to iPhone or Android is recommended due to declining number of BB's in use.

Not sure what you mean. Are they saying the migration of the "app" to iPhone/Android is recommended or do you mean that any BlackBerry "work devices" they have should be replaced? Do you happen to know what BES replacement your company went with (ie MobileIron, Good, etc...)? Not to dog CISCO, although i figure they are not part of the regulated industry BlackBerry is focusing on, I would think they would want the best security out there to protect their intellectual property from competitors and I didn't know that BlackBerry was going bankrupt if that's the uncertain future they are concerned about.

Guys I really don't want to speculate. I just added few bits to the puzzle.

Users of BB within company are encouraged to switch to iPhone or at least droid. Number of active BB devices within company is decreasing. Its not that supprising, if you think about BB as "competitor" (though heavily specialized in mobile devices) of Cisco in security and device management and communication.

Speaking of security: Key apps from our UCS are not working currently on BB (Cisco Jabber, Cisco Annyconnect,...) and are working flawlessly on iDevices . . . that makes me sad though, because my Z30 is so much better. But no love here :(

Take it or leave it

I just installed both Jabber and Anyconnect through Snap and indeed they don't run. Well, they do open but don't connect.

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Android apps secured by BlackBerry on BB10.

You will not get Android secure because of the built in Google stuff.

What is an Android?
A human-like robot or (wider definition) even a Cyborg, that's what they want to turn us into.

Google Glass, Google Now, wearable tech, finally chips and implants. All connected, governed and controlled by the Boorgle hive.

No thanks. I'll keep my BlackBerry, my data and my human dignity.

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

For the first time in many years (I'm a track wheel veteran), I feel confident in the BlackBerry team. They may not always be headed where we would like but with so many roads blocked due to previously poorly made decisions, they are headed in the most important direction: survival. Hopefully this will again meet up with the road to success.

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BlackBerry will remain viable. And it will forge new partnerships along the way. Microsoft is the most viable partner and apple is next. Amazon is also a partner that could do wonders because of its rabid consumer base and cloud storage capabilities. I say make work space a consumer space and give 50 gigs of super secure cloud storage with sharepoint access, new medical and business apps and you will bring people back.

The fact that you can select a different default search engine (I use duck duck go but rather have ixquick) is awesome. Others cannot.

This device has the best file connectors out there with Dropbox, box, one drive, play cloud link etc. Push that home. Show it in real world action.

Show this device and OS off man. Get it our there. It will prevail.

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It's articles like this that keep me coming back to CrackBerry, and make me excited for the future of BlackBerry.

Yes, I love my BlackBerry, but I own a small business so we use BlackBerry and BES, so that comes first. The hints of what the are thinking and doing are very encouraging to me.

Tools not Toys my CrackBerry brothers!!

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The last section is balm for the soul!!! An executive team that likes to take decisions is a rare thing all over the world...

I mean decisions for the business they work for... not decisions on how to spend the bonuses, that's never been an issue =)

Ferrari ZetaDieci

That last comment doesn't sound particularly insightful or enlightened, it just sounds like common sense. Why that would inspire confidence is beyond me!

There's something really noticeable on the timing side. Looks like they want to release major elements together. A good example is the Q20, re-designed "by and for" the enterprise, that will launch along with BES12. Two novelties on the same time slot; I call efficiency and clap my hands.

Realism, aggressive decision making and correcting wrong perceptions about the company and product. That is what it is going to take.

I instead of a cameraless phone maybe one that works only on the private side? Employees would only have to carry one device.

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Healthcare is a potentially huge market, so long as BlackBerry can also get the app developers onboard. There's so much sloppy security in this arena, even when patient data is involved. Go BlackBerry go!

What a great article! I visit CrackBerry 4 times and more daily. Thanks CrackBerry for being #1 in my books! BlackBerry keep the great work!

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What is interesting with Chens team is the honesty and clarity that they convey, nothing is assumed," it is what it is, and here is our approach".

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That was a good read, Simon. Thanks. I'm wondering about the idea of a "cameraless " phone as a super secure health care tool, though. I gather that is for patient confidence that the health care professional is not violating their privacy and confidence. Otherwise, I think that the camera could be a very useful tool in medical consults with specialists and colleagues over encrypted BBM. Clearly, this speaks to the value if the enterprise consultations to give the customer what they want and need. Go BlackBerry!

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I have many Canadian friends and I appreciate how low-key and polite they are. Unfortunately in the rough and tumble world of mobile these days, you have to have the eye of the tiger. It may take the aggressiveness of Americans to turn things around at BBRY.


Think of your blackberry as a car that you just bought from the dealer. Then think of the software as an after market part you just installed. Now the government the carriers owns the roads you drive on. And they have final say on if that part is road legal not the dealer why cause they own the road your driving on. And they have final say on what they allow you to put on their road.

All the people complaining for months about us carriers are right to complain about the slowness but blackberry doesn't own the carrier network. And the novices that well apple can do it. BlackBerry is not apple and dont have the power or the pull that apple has in the industry. That strong arming tactic that jobs pulled was one of the best thinks he ever did for apple.

i think he hit the nail on the head. you arent going to please everyone with the decisions that you make but if you dont make the decision at all you please no one. The minor issues will be worked out. They need stability and consistency. Businesses key or reliability and being available when they need you. having outages and interruptions causes big problems if they can get rock solid reliabiltiy of the network then people will come back right now its just to hit and miss. For those businesses considering switching away from blackberry what are there options? iphone(not a business phone) android(way to many security issues) windows(not enough apps and very limited) So yes they can switch but if they switch they also give up alot. Starting over from scratch is always more difficult then just finding solutions to current problems. So thats kind of where blackberry stands and everyone is just waiting to see what happens. lets hope the wait is worth it.

Getting the facts straight, and KEEP MOVING!

Posted via CB10 via the BlackBerry Q10!

Great post! BlackBerry will survive and it's all because of security! Just ask the German govt about that!

Posted using the best phone ever, the Z30!

Copy the link, paste it into the web browser. I don't know why links give me trouble sometimes.

I used my Q10 to create this CrackBerry madness!

Yes I was quite impressed - don't know why Crackberry haven't reported's the best article I've read about Blackberry in a long time!

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Isn't banking a perfect venue for BlackBerry? I mean security is fine for regulated industry, but for the rest of us, money exchanges are important in the future. Personal security is not a dead issue.

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Very nice indeed. Finally a dedicated Management Team to push BBRY forward, and into the future.

Well T-Mo appeared to capitulate to a great degree, didn't they? If you call that "backfiring" let's see more of the same!

Posted by the inimitable Z10 handheld system

I like the tougher stance the company is taking with anyone thinking BlackBerry is a push- over destined for the ash bin. None of us should read too much into the T-Mobile defections, with sales at near zero in the U.S. it isn't a surprise their customers are following the latest trend.

Sent from my BlackBerry Z30

Best thing that I have ever read about the new BlackBerry team.

“I've worked with John [Chen] previously, at SAP. We make decisions on things. We look at situations, and we make decisions. Our general feeling is if you let it linger, the decision doesn't get any easier or any better. In fact, it might go the opposite way. It's better to weigh out the facts and then get moving.”

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