Yesterday we saw BlackBerry tap John Sims as the new President of Enterprise Services. He is leaving his current role as President of Mobile Services at SAP to take on this newly created position at BlackBerry.
I’m honestly happy to see this because for some time now I’ve been concerned about the quality of management on the enterprise side of the company. Here’s an article where I discussed my concerns on strategy, communication and execution. When Thorsten Heins was CEO he did quite a lot of work to reshape the executive team and bring BlackBerry 10 to market. But it also feels like the enterprise side of the company took a back seat, which was probably a huge mistake.
As far back as I can remember, BlackBerry never had any divisional presidents. They’ve had C-level titles, Vice Presidents, and Senior Vice Presidents. Unless I’m mistaken, there has never been a president of anything at BlackBerry. Think about this: John Chen’s first major hire was a guy with experience in the enterprise software business appointed to the role of president in a company that never had a president running the enterprise business before. This is a pretty obvious sign of how seriously Chen views the enterprise business.
Two days ago, when I wrote about the most recent executive departures, I suggested that Chen was looking for different skill sets in its executive team. I also said I’d like to see who he hires, because it would reveal a lot more about what his goals are. Now we know more.
I’m also curious about the title “Enterprise Services”, with an emphasis on the word “services”. I’ve always thought that the transition to BlackBerry 10 should coincide with a transition to a SaaS model (software as a service), where BES licenses are not sold (ever) on a one-off basis, but billed monthly or yearly. Same thing for enterprise mobility management of other devices (iOS and Android). It’s unclear to me what’s actually happening. It seems you can buy lifetime licenses for BlackBerry, but iOS and Android are annual licenses. If this can’t be communicated easily to people, someone should be fired. Something is broken. Maybe Chen and Sims will be fixing this stuff.
In my mind, a success for the enterprise business would be to 1) convince people BlackBerry will be around for a long time; 2) clean up the actual product offering and pricing so it’s super simple to explain to customers; 3) push like hell on cloud-hosted enterprise mobility management products since this is going to be an important growth area. If they can do this and sign up a bunch of customers we might just have what we need to replace all of the recurring consumer service revenue that is disappearing day by day.