At the beginning of 2019, Ovum spoke to Amit Mehta, managing director of BlackBerry in ASEAN and India, to understand the smartphone vendor's transition toward becoming a software and services company. This opinion piece highlights BlackBerry's progress on its turnaround strategy and gives a brief outlook on its strategic focus for the fast-expanding "connected things" market.
BlackBerry's move to a software and service company hinges on securing mobility
BlackBerry has been working through its turnaround strategy to change its narrative from being a brand associated with hardware and devices to one associated with critical enterprise software solutions. The past five years have marked a dramatic shift in BlackBerry's business model as the contribution of hardware and device sales to its overall revenue mix declined to less than 20% in 2018 compared to around 60% in 2013. During this period, enterprise solutions and services became the growth engine as BlackBerry continued to evolve its service offerings for the enterprise segment. The successful transition of the business, however, required BlackBerry to enhance the value it offered to enterprise customers by expanding beyond device management solutions and opening its platform to multiple partners.
In 2013, BlackBerry unveiled BlackBerry Enterprise Services 10 (BES 10), an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution, to position itself as a key vendor in the EMM segment. BlackBerry's strategy to consolidate its position in the enterprise segment was supported by strategic acquisitions and partnerships aimed at capturing additional value in enterprise applications management. To grow its partner ecosystem, BlackBerry introduced BES 12, a cross-platform EMM solution that integrates with Android for Work and Samsung KNOX. The vendor also acquired Good Technology and WatchDox to extend its enterprise mobility solutions to both mobile devices and desktops across multiple platforms, including BBOS, BlackBerry 10, iOS, Android OS, and Windows.
The road ahead for BlackBerry was to expand its offerings beyond the traditional enterprise mobility framework by helping organizations secure and manage a unified estate of endpoints. To this end, BlackBerry's acquisition of Good Technology, and the subsequent integration of Good Technology's capabilities into the BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite, has proved instrumental. BlackBerry's unified endpoint management (UEM) solution, BlackBerry UEM, combines mobile security, management, productivity, and collaboration solutions in one platform. With the new integrated solution, organizations benefit from having a single view and console from which a variety of devices and operating systems can be managed, while also being able to leverage other unified policy management and app management capabilities.
While BlackBerry has a strong presence in the enterprise segment, especially with its security reputation in heavily regulated industries, the changing mobility landscape means that BlackBerry must evolve its market vision and customer focus. BlackBerry, therefore, hinges its future growth around two key themes. The first is to take a more distributed approach by securing and managing all "connected things" in an enterprise, which may well include securing smart sensors used for collecting and transmitting data or securing connected smart speakers. The second theme is to offer a cohesive user experience while securing an organization's assets. BlackBerry believes that enterprises must view security as an embedded yet invisible part of both physical and digital infrastructure. In a connected and digital environment, enterprises should be able to leverage distributed business networks by externalizing workflows across customers, partners, devices, and endpoints.
Its new vision is backed by the launch of a new platform, BlackBerry Spark, the secure communications platform for the Internet of Things (IoT). This marks BlackBerry's transformation to a vendor that can secure, connect, and support cross-platform environments. The recent acquisition of AI cybersecurity threat-prevention company, Cylance, is the full stop in BlackBerry's transformation journey. Cylance's machine learning and AI technology is a strategic addition, as its embeddable AI technology will accelerate the development of BlackBerry Spark, helping to cement BlackBerry's role as a provider of end-to-end secure communications in a hyperconnected world.
SWOT Assessment: BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite, IT0021-000275 (September 2017)
"Unified endpoint management will be an important tool in supporting workplace mobility," ENS001-000048 (January 2019)
Inderpreet Kaur, Senior Analyst, Asia-Pacific