BlackBerry turns to channel to save business
- 04 June, 2014 10:45
Blackberry Australia is pinning its hopes on a pivot to enterprise mobility, security and the Internet of Things in a bid to save the company after a dramatic fall from grace.
In January, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found the once dominant Canadian smartphone maker accounted for zero per cent of all smartphone activations in the fourth quarter of 2013 in the US.
This followed the release of the BlackBerry 10 platform at the beginning of 2013 to revive flagging handset sales.
Despite the foreboding US handset figures, Blackberry Australia managing director, Matt Ball, told ARN he remained optimistic about the position of BlackBerry in Australia and pointed to a number of recent customer wins, and its dominance in the Australian mobility market.
"To limit ourselves just on handset shipments is setting ourselves up for failure," he said.
"Blackberry had a pretty tough year towards the end of last year, but from an Australian perspective we have some really solid wins and a huge amount of success has been through our channel partners.
Telsyte found that BlackBerry was the most widely implemented Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution in Australia in 2013 and that one in five businesses (with 20 or more employees) with an MDM solution in place, used BlackBerry.
According to a company statement, BlackBerry has seen 65 per cent of its Australia’s customer base migrate to or trial BES10 since its launch, including verticals such as government, finance, mining and professional services.
Blackberry has won contracts with the Australian National Audit Office, a specialist federal government department that provides auditing services for the Australian Parliament, and professional services company, Questas.
Both of these contracts were won on the basis of security, he said.
Ball said there had been some pretty solid uptake in the Australian since the company opened its platform to Android and iOS devices.
"We are listed as the NSW goverment's preferred MDM of choice," he said.
"We are going to be truly offering customers choice and we are working pretty deeply with our channel partners who are driving home what the unique proposition is.
"They key to our competitive advantage relies on security."
AirWatch, Citrix, IBM and SAP have expressed their intent to be the first companies to work with BlackBerry to enable a more open mobility ecosystem.
Ball said the company had also picked up a number of strategic system integrator partners including Imei, SI Partners and Symmetry.
He said the company hoped to take a leading role in the Internet of Things through its Project Ion, which aims to help businesses easily connect people, devices and machines, and derive value from these connections.
"We are working on identifying how does BlackBerry take a leading role in IOT," he said.
"We need partners to be able to do that and for us they will be more non-traditional partners then we have ever had before.
"We are working with them to close out opportunities from a channel perspective, with partners who have established relationships with the customer."
Project Ion is a cornerstone of BlackBerry’s vision to offer end-to-end solutions for the Internet of Things.
Project Ion was announced at the O’Reilly Solid Conference (May 21-22, San Francisco).
BlackBerry claims it will offer access to massive amounts of data from multiple disparate sources and distill it into meaningful, actionable information using open source and third party analytic tools.
This deeper insight will empower companies and organisations across a range of industries.
This includes doctors and caregivers who require real-time diagnosis information to improve patient care, consumer products companies seeking new ways to better understand and engage with their customers, insurers pursuing more accurate risk profile information and manufacturers in need of better logistics and control data.
Ball said the health sector was an area of focus and again pointed to use of the channel to bring the company's vision to bear.
"It's really important to work with channel partners that have very strong verticals and industry experience," he said.
In April the company also purchased IT consultant NantHealth.
BlackBerry chief executive, John Chen, said NantHealth was a proven innovator in developing leading platforms that allowed medical professionals to share information and deliver care efficiently.
"BlackBerry’s capabilities align closely with NantHealth’s and this investment represents the type of forward-looking opportunities that are vital to our future.”
Chen was also morbidly optimistic about the plan to save the company by taking it back to its enterprise roots and focusing on health at the Code Conference.
"We have a lot of problems, but it's not dead," he told the conference.
"I am quite confident we'll be able to save the patient."