BlackBerry's enterprise strategy in Asia

In this exclusive interview with MIS Asia, Scott Totzke, senior vice president for BlackBerry Security, talks about the smartphone maker's enterprise strategy, the effect of BYOD and regaining market share in Asia.

What is BlackBerry's current enterprise product management and strategy? How has it changed or evolved over the years?

It's really about embracing trends that we see in the industry. Since 2008 we've seen BYOD really gaining momentum.

Originally it was viewed as a way of taking cost out of the business, moving capital expenditure to operational expenditure. But what we've actually seen over the long term is that it's actually increasing cost and complexity. That's why we've come up with solutions like BlackBerry Balance. What we've also learned, and why this is important in the BYOD space is instead of making security about turning things off and saying no to the user, which is really what we did for the first decade, we've now taken another way of looking at security.

With BlackBerry Balance we've made security a strategic enabler. We're saying let's allow IT administrators to enable all of the consumer functionality on the device but still have them protect all the corporate information and provide a great user experience for anyone who's on BlackBerry 10.

Given that BlackBerry's market or installed base has shrunk due to competition, how confident is RIM in winning back detractors and gaining wider popularity in the face of the BYOD trend?

If you look at BlackBerry 10, it is the ultimate BYOD device. It is a platform that has been engineered from the ground up to deliver two purposes.

Firstly, to deliver a state-of-the-art smartphone experience for the consumer that resides within all of us. It has the best mobile browser in the business, a phenomenal typing experience, whether on a touch or QWERTY keyboard, and all the multimedia, games and things that people expect now.

The other aspect that I would like to highlight is that with BlackBerry Balance, corporations have the ability to control and protect the information on the device attached to the organisation. It means that you really get the best of both worlds. I believe the completeness of the platform and all the management capabilities are really what will propel BlackBerry to lead in the enterprise.

Again on BYOD, organisations have found ways to secure their smart devices sufficiently to enable corporate use. How different is Blackberry's proposition?

Often when you're looking at security across platforms you end up with a compromise. With BlackBerry Balance on BlackBerry 10 we're bringing an experience where users get to interact with their device and the people they communicate with in a seamless environment.

You may interact with the same person personally through Facebook or Twitter, as well as professionally through email but BlackBerry Balance figures the differences out and separates that data behind the scenes. We make the steps to protect your personal information so you don't accidentally take Facebook information and send it out to a global distribution list in the company, and you don't take corporate information and paste it into your Twitter or Facebook by mistake.

There's built in data leakage protection but the elegance of the user experience means that everything is unified in a single view. This makes it completely simple for the user to go about their business, whether it's their personal life or their professional life and it all shows up in one place; the BlackBerry Hub. Once you get that, your work and personal life just flow together.

What about compatibility with existing mobile platforms like Apple's iOS and Android? Will RIM enable BlackBerry apps to work on them?

As part of our enterprise mobile management strategy we're enabling Android and iOS devices to connect to BES 10. It means that IT admins can handle MDM for iOS and Android devices through the same management console used to manage BlackBerry devices.

We are also planning to increase the amount of support BES 10 offers iOS and Android users by providing them with a dedicated workspace on their devices where corporate data can be securely kept. This upcoming feature, called BlackBerry Secure Workspace, can be accessed on Apple iPhones by selecting an app on the home screen and logging in using a PIN code.

What is Blackberry doing to regain market share in Asia Pacific by evoking its commitment to security?

Security is something that's universal. I have the great privilege of travelling around the world and talking to government and enterprise customers about their security concerns. In enterprise today, it boils down to managing the diversity of devices and dealing with the BYOD trend.

You could change a customer name and city and they'd face the same challenges in New York or Jakarta, or Singapore or Beijing. Current security trends are universal and come back to having a fantastic user experience where consumer electronics meets enterprise security requirements, which is what the BlackBerry 10 platform and BlackBerry Balance is all about.

This gives the IT admin a really simplified mechanism to manage the diverse portfolio of devices. BES 10 gives you a behind the firewall management capability and we tie all of that together with our global network of 650 carriers in 175 different countries that facilitates real-time delivery of data no matter where you are in the world.

How does BlackBerry see the mobile computing industry evolving in the next 12 months? Will developments in Asia Pacific be different from other parts of the world? If yes, how?

I believe we are at an inflection point where we are going to see an even faster change in innovation. If you look at where we are with mobile computing today, we're just at the starting point and perhaps over the next 12 to 18 months, the definition of mobility is really going to change.

Today we think of it as just a smartphone or a tablet but it is not a stretch to think that there is a whole integration that could work as we move forward. For example, your email is delivered to your car and read out through your speaker system, or when you have a meeting, it'll show up in your GPS so you can easily navigate there. Obviously the focal point will still be smartphones and tablets but 12 months from now we are going to be talking about a whole different set of diverse end points.

I also don't see much difference between AP and the rest of the world. There are specifics in applications, like China having its own social networks, but that's still just a variant of what we see with social networks. All of that ties to the same themes of mobility, communication and collaboration, which is what we're about at BlackBerry.

As networks evolve with regional or global tools we've got a platform that we can build on to serve those needs.

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