BlackBerry Turn-Around Must Leverage Customer Trust in Secure Network

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-11-06 Print this article Print

About the only thing that BlackBerry has left is an appreciation among its business and government customers for its security systems. It was, after all, BlackBerry that stood up to NSA spying in Germany and BlackBerry that provided the secure communications necessary for the beginnings of democracy in the Middle East. As a result, BlackBerry is a favored platform for organizations that value security more than they value any possible level of coolness.

But to accomplish this focus on enterprise security, BlackBerry has to appear truly interested in the enterprise. This means developing an application ecosystem that plays to its strengths, but the apps that seem to emerge from BlackBerry don't do that. Instead all that seems to show up is a trickle of games and entertainment packages that don't do anything for BlackBerry's loyal customer base.

So what Chen must do is convince corporate and government users that BlackBerry is serious about serving them. This means offering an infrastructure that remains secure, an ecosystem that offers business and government users value they can't find elsewhere. The obvious question is how he plans to go about accomplishing that.

So far, Chen and Watsa appear to be on the right track, which is to keep BlackBerry intact for the time being. BlackBerry's customers, the big ones especially, depend on the company and its services being in place to offer a complete solution. If part of the company were to get sold off, it would mean that the parts that remain in the hands of customers would become less valuable and that's not the way to retain the customers that BlackBerry needs so badly.

Likewise, selling the company to any organization where its security might be in question such as Lenovo, would become an immediate problem for BlackBerry's existing customers. And one way or another, it's those existing enterprise customers that are the backbone of BlackBerry's future. It's those customers that will provide the proof that the company needs to convince future customers that as long as BlackBerry remains intact, their communications are secure. But if that belief fails, then BlackBerry is essentially toast.

The problem is how you translate something as ephemeral as customers' trust in BlackBerry's security services into a business plan. But here, at least BlackBerry has some experience. After all, it has done this once before and did it so well that belief in the company remains strong to this day. But it won't last forever, and that belief is the one thing that BlackBerry can't mortgage because without it the company will surely fail.


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