Learning From The BlackBerry Monkey Wrench

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Consumerization of IT (CoIT) have brought pause and complications to the traditional IT support model. Some have argued that BYOD is more expensive and not a good option for corporations. I disagree under the premise that the arguments are based on strictly the IT perspective and traditional support methodologies. There is obviously much more to it…but this post isn’t about arguing the BYOD perspective.

While organizations wrestle with what to do, the industry stalwart has tripped, stumbled and appears to be falling quickly.

RIM Falls From Grace

RIM, the makers of the industry-standard BlackBerry, has seen their stock price lose almost 90% of its value in less than 18 months. That is in addition to leadership changes, delay of their next major operating system and significant job cuts. To put that in perspective, the Dow Jones and Nasdaq markets have made minor gains during the same period.


Impact for Enterprise IT

IT organizations and the companies they serve have standardized on the BlackBerry platform for years. Even today, many corporate enterprises still leverage the BlackBerry platform. The downturn for RIM creates a significant challenge for IT organizations and managed service providers (MSP); regardless if they have adopted a mobile strategy or not. Even if the organization has a mobile strategy in place, replacing mobile devices is not a trivial task. Just ask anyone who has needed to coordinate, rollout and support a successful mobile device upgrade. Upgrading to new devices within the same product family (ie: BlackBerry to BlackBerry) presents enough of a challenge. The complications grow exponentially when moving to a new platform (ie: BlackBerry to iOS or Android).

Mobile Strategy Changes

There are solutions to the problem and they require quick action. Some are short-term fixes while others are long-term solutions. First and foremost, if a mobile strategy does not exist…create one! It needs to include the BYOD policy. Ensure that it not only includes consideration for the devices, but more importantly the data and applications. Past methodologies focused on securing devices as the means to securing corporate data. With the move into BYOD and CoIT, securing devices is a futile effort in the long term. Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions exist to manage the variety of devices a corporate IT organization may encounter. In the long term, relying solely on MDM solutions needs to evolve to managing the applications and underlying data.

Take Action Now

It should go without saying, but corporate entities should not be taking a wait-and-see approach with supporting BlackBerry devices. It takes too long to move to a new platform and this approach could leave users in limbo. Unlike other devices/ solutions, the RIM/ BlackBerry solution relies on RIM’s data centers and servers in operation for the system to work. Unfortunately, the likely outcome for RIM is to sell off the intellectual property assets to a third party. This could mean that the three core components (Software, Devices and Operations) could end up with three different companies…and it is unknown what their motives will be.

Bottom Line: Develop a mobile device strategy immediately and engage backup planning. Don’t wait to see what happens with RIM/ BlackBerry first.

Further Reading:

Gaining Entry to the Enterprise via the Consumer Trojan Horse

The Difference Between CoIT and BYOD: And the Impact for IT

What the CIO Needs to Know About BYOD


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