The Enterprise of Things (EOT) Spells Opportunity For BlackBerry
BlackBerry made several announcements in favor of its expanding security and services portfolio, in the quest to further shed its device legacy. Like other mobile management vendors, BlackBerry has expanded its services to offer unified endpoint management (UEM). BlackBerry’s UEM will allow companies to support corporate and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs for mobile devices as well as Windows 10 and MacOS computers. Part of the announcements also extended endpoint and software management for new workforce devices such as wearables. In its press conference, BlackBerry highlighted support for enterprise devices such as the Recon Jet Pro.
On the application front, a partnership with Microsoft will enable IT to manage and apply protection policies to Microsoft Office 365 mobile applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from BlackBerry UEM. Mobile app support got a boost with new analytics capability will allow developers to track daily and monthly active users, daily minutes used, usage by OS type and version, as well as user engagement by feature. Additionally, the company updated its collaboration secure Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) solution, called BlackBerry Workspaces, with in-line comments, @mentions and alerts. It also integrated DocuSign for signature capabilities.
Why EoT is important for Blackberry
As noted in the BlackBerry press release, the next wave of connectivity and change lies with the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to a growing network of physical objects that have sensors and Internet connectivity. IoT efforts that focus solely on enterprise-related devices are called the EoT. With billions of connected devices coming online, BlackBerry’s real market opportunity lies in services to support connected things for the enterprise. Beyond the obvious reason that IoT/EoT is the future of computing, this market could help BlackBerry return to growth because:
- There’s no predetermined leading vendor in the EoT space. The EoT refers to numerous use cases, products and vendors that vary across different industries. Given the diversity of the market, BlackBerry could win business by partnering with established vendors in the industrial space such as Schneider and Rockwell.
- The buyers extend beyond IT for IoT/EoT use cases. Roles such as plant manager, facilities maintenance and logistics managers are new buyers for EoT services, providing an opportunity for BlackBerry to reach a new untapped audience.
- BlackBerry already has IoT/EoT products and customers. The company has purchased several IoT companies. For example, BlackBerry’s QNX line delivers secure, mission-critical solutions for general embedded, automotive and connected transportation systems. The company’s software operates in areas as diverse as automobiles, surgical equipment and nuclear power plants. These markets have the high security and reliability. It also offers an asset tracking and health service called Radar.
Moving beyond UEM to real EoT
UEM is slowly gaining traction as organizations look to support Windows 10 environments. All of these features are necessary to compete in the UEM space but is that enough for BlackBerry to be successful in such a competitive market. My theory is that UEM is table stakes for anyone entering the EoT space, but it’s not the end game. Given the company’s early EoT success, Blackberry should spend more time marketing its EoT knowledge as a long-term differentiator, but it also must push the ball forward in EoT. VMware is already nipping at BlackBerry’s heels with its recent announcement of the EoT management service.
So, how can BlackBerry deliver more value to its customers? It must continue to ramp its solutions business. Today’s EoT environment is a complicated set of technologies that need to be deployed and integrated as a solution before EoT can deliver business value. For example, a typical EoT solution contains connected devices, analytics, and software that can consume the data before a customer can gain new insights into their operations.
With this in mind, it’s clear that managing and securing EoT devices is important, but not enough to be considered a strategic EoT play. Products that offer immediate insight, such as asset tracking, workforce optimization and logistics will provide the value to purchasers. Note, I didn’t say another “platform” for connecting devices. The market has plenty of platforms that connect data but stop short of delivering insights. BlackBerry already launched a solution called Radar for asset tracking, but it needs to add more services, faster. The company has also focused on delivering a broader security portfolio that complements its other EoT initiatives.
IoT/EoT is a difficult market for any vendor to crack. BlackBerry will need to acquire, partner and enhance existing market solutions to drive EoT efforts forward.While the EoT has reached the top of the hype cycle, actual deployments are nascent, suggesting a huge opportunity for any vendor that can come up with the right stuff. Keeping UEM current is essential for BlackBerry, but it needs to aggressively define a new EoT future for its clients that’s beyond what companies like Microsoft and VMware are discussing with UEM. It will be interesting to see how the next chapter unfolds.