BlackBerry Negativity 'Exaggerated,' BES Still Makes Sense: Report

J. Gold Associates expects more devices, more apps and more systems to enter enterprises and said BES makes sense for managing them.

BlackBerry has faced its trials in recent years, but don't write it off yet, said J. Gold Associates.

With all of the negativity around BlackBerry, "some of it exaggerated and undeserved, although certainly they are facing major challenges," said principal analyst Jack Gold in a Dec. 18 statement, the research firm decided to take a close look at BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 (BES10). It concluded that it's a "significant step forward" for BlackBerry in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) space. And further, the firm expects BES10 to uniquely position BlackBerry to address a growing trend.

In the next one to two years, J. Gold Associates expects enterprise workers will, on a regular basis, use three to five personal devices, eight to 10 business applications and at least five different enterprise systems (such as a VPN, email/Exchange, or a CRM or ERP system) to get their work done.

"Most organizations will struggle to manage and secure these devices, due to lack of consistency of capabilities and tools and increasing end-user driven deployments,"Gold said.

"As more diversity becomes the norm through adoption of user-acquired devices," he continued, "enterprises wonder whether maintaining the BlackBerry BES infrastructure still makes sense. We believe it does."

BlackBerry, after years of fighting off the enterprise invasion of iPhones, and later Android devices, in May changed its strategy and began offering security and management support—something it has always done well—to users of its rivals' devices. BES10.1 is a single solution for managing iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices side by side.

EMM Survey

In its report, J. Gold Associates also shares the results of surveying 270 enterprises to see what platforms are considered strategic. When asked what EMM system is considered strategic to their organization, 28 percent of respondents said BES, 12 percent said BES10 and 27 percent said they didn't have an EMM system yet.

"No other mobility management solution came close to BES as a strategic choice within the organizations surveyed," said the report.

With many small vendors offering EMM solutions, the firm expects some vendors won't last, as the market matures, and over the next one to two years there will be a "major consolidation."

When asked what phase of the mobile device management process they were in, only 9 percent of respondents said they have a vendor. Another 16 percent said they were narrowing down their choices.

"Fully 60 percent of respondent companies are early in the selection process. Despite the MDM vendors' marketing hype, relatively few companies have actually implemented solutions," said the report. "While we believe MDM is a long-term strategic enterprise requirement to control the growing installations of user-selected devices, the market is moving deliberately to find the best product to fit an organization's specific needs."

BlackBerry announced a major change in overall strategy Nov. 4. The day the due diligence period ended on its $4.7 billion deal with Fairfax Financial Holdings, BlackBerry announced that it had instead decided to accept a $1 billion investment from Fairfax and others, that CEO Thorsten Heins was leaving, and that John Chen, who helped turn around Sybase, was climbing into the driver's seat.

"We have begun moving the company to embrace a multi-platform, BYOD [bring-your-own-device] world by adopting a new mobility-management platform and a new device strategy," Chen said in an open letter Nov. 13. "While we are proud of these accomplishments, we know there is more work to be done."

On Dec. 18, BlackBerry announced the appointment of two new executives, James Mackey, the new executive vice president for Corporate Development and Strategic Planning, and Mark Wilson, the new senior vice president of Marketing. Chen, in a statement, said he had previously worked "extensively" with both men.

J. Gold Associates called BlackBerry's new management team "fully committed" to the enterprise.

"Enterprises should feel comfortable making a strategic investment in BES10 and other BlackBerry products. We see little risk of BlackBerry simply closing its doors and leaving customers in the lurch," said the report. "Therefore we evaluate the overall risk of working with BlackBerry as low, and companies should feel comfortable doing so."