BlackBerry Updates Its IoT-Focused Enterprise Mobility Suite

The latest features include the ability to create protection policies for Microsoft Office 365 users as well as improved user analytics.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry is adding new features to its 6-month-old BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite, giving it enhancements that will now let users securely access business data on unmanaged Windows or iOS laptops while also enabling companies to apply user policies for Microsoft Office 365 mobile applications. The expanded capabilities were unveiled by BlackBerry on June 20.

Using the BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite, IT administrators will now be able to manage and apply protection policies to Microsoft Office 365 mobile applications including Word, Excel and PowerPoint using BlackBerry Unified Endpoint Management (UEM), according to the announcement. In addition, users of the BlackBerry Access secure web browser will now be able to safely work on business data with their personal or bring-your-own-laptop devices using Windows 10 or Apple MacOS computers, while users of BlackBerry Workspaces will now be able to add in-line comments, mentions and alerts in collaboration with other users.

Another enhancement includes the integration of DocuSign capabilities, giving users the ability to add a key workflow that lets users provide and share legally binding documents, such as loan applications and financial transactions. BlackBerry Analytics can also now be used to track daily and monthly active users, daily minutes used, usage by OS type and version, daily launch count and user engagement by feature, according to BlackBerry. By adding such analytics, enterprise IT administrators and developers have access to insights that can be used to increase business productivity through changes to user experience flow, training or maintenance schedules.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite, which debuted in December 2016, also now includes endpoint management software capabilities that can be used with enterprise workforce devices, such as smart glasses and their original or third-party applications.

The new capabilities, which will be added in automatic updates, were requested by users, the company told eWEEK in response to an inquiry.

The suite, which is part of the BlackBerry Secure platform, allows enterprises to create and administer secure management policies and controls across devices and applications running on iOS, Android, Windows 10, macOS and Samsung Knox. BlackBerry Secure can be delivered on premises or as a cloud service.

"The explosion of devices and consumer applications is making it increasingly difficult for enterprises to balance information security and compliance with productivity and connectivity," Billy Ho, the executive vice president of enterprise software for BlackBerry, said in a statement. "Mobile Device Management and Enterprise Mobility Management are simply not enough, which is why we offer a Unified Endpoint Management platform that lets companies secure and manage these devices, plus the associated applications. By making it easier to use, we are removing one of the biggest IT challenges–getting employees to use corporate applications."

BlackBerry UEM was formerly known as BES12, the company's mobile platform.

BlackBerry has had quite an interesting industry ride in the last few years. In September of 2016, the company announced it was dropping its production and sales of handsets to focus on its mobile security services, while licensing its handset designs and production to third-party manufacturers. A month later, in October of 2016, BlackBerry announced its first licensing agreement for its then-new DTEK60 Android phone, which is being built and sold by TCL.

A decade ago, BlackBerry was still the clear leader in enterprise mobile devices. BlackBerry's fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market was swift and stunning. In early 2006, a year before the first iPhones appeared from Apple in 2007, half of all smartphones sold worldwide were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent.

Earlier in June, BlackBerry's latest licensed handset, the KEYone, was released by TCL, according to a recent eWEEK story.