Sounds like we have the winner -- already.
Sounds like we have the winner -- already.
With that said, customers still want choice, and that means the enterprise mobility door is open just enough for other players to push through and perhaps gain share. But if the well worn history of enterprise technology adoption is any indication, winning on a global scale isn't a walk in the park, and typically requires three things: Meet the needs of the enterprise IT organization; meet the needs of the enterprise user; be easy to do business with.
So to see why BlackBerry is the ultimate winner in the enterprise, let's take a closer look at where each stands in these categories.
Let's start with the IT organizations that care about architecture, security, scalability and manageability, and that have so heartily embraced the BlackBerry platform. They value the ability of the BlackBerry platform's closed-loop system to reliably and securely enable mobility in an inherently unpredictable mobile world of roaming devices.
They value the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), not only because it securely and reliably routes data, but because it provides seamlessly integrated advanced mobile device management to give IT comprehensive control via 420+ IT policies, over the air (OTA) application push and security control, and enterprise application white-list/black-list control. And they value the RIM network operations center and its worldwide network of BlackBerry Relays, which provide near bullet-proof security, message queuing with guaranteed delivery, massive scalability and high availability approaching "five nines."
Right now, much of what enterprise IT values in BlackBerry is missing from the iPhone with or without a third-party technology like Microsoft ActiveSync. No native VPN. No native Mobile Device Management (MDM). No private on-premise secure OTA App push. Only 30 or so IT policies with ActiveSync (of which iPhone implements 13). Limited on-device encryption.
Put another way, it takes a village of third-party vendors to enable roughly comparable configuration, provisioning, security and patching of iPhone devices in the enterprise. And the enterprise is still missing the mission-critical services and performance guarantees of the RIM NOC with BlackBerry Relays. Ultimately all of this comes standard in a unified proven package with BlackBerry for the enterprise.
Now Apple hasn't achieved its success by chance. Its engineers have designed innovative new interfaces and applications that are driving consumer demand right into the business world. Prudence dictates that as the demands of enterprise iPhone users grow, Apple will respond with more enterprise capabilities. But ultimately, the iPhone has its hands full trying to catch up to BlackBerry.
OK, so we talked about why enterprise IT has made BlackBerry the winner. But what about enterprise mobile users? What they care about is the mobile experience.
BlackBerry is built from the ground up for speed and excels at messaging, collaboration and communication. You can read fast, type fast, jump/cut/paste from app to app fast, and talk at the same time. You can even work offline when there is no coverage using rich on-device apps, and the platform will sync automatically when back in coverage. Heck, even the battery seems to last forever.
In collaboration with partners years ago, the BlackBerry platform also rolled out third-party business and productivity applications like Bloomberg, Reuters, SAP, Oracle, Cognos and office docs, all of which can run simultaneously.
The iPhone has a slick user interface and a huge variety of applications (giving it a significant lead in the mobile application space), but it still lacks the tactile keyboard demanded by speed typers, the all day power, the multi-threaded operating system capable of simultaneous apps, and the reliable service delivery that most mobile business users demand.
Remember the third factor of what it takes for a technology to win on the global enterprise scale? It is the technology and vendor ecosystem must be "easy to do business with." And to examine this issue you have to take two key enterprise requirements into account.
The first is breadth of availability required for enterprise standardization. BlackBerry devices and services are readily available from more than 200 carriers around the world in multiple languages, perfect for enterprises, which typically prefer to have a mix of carriers in order to negotiate the best deals and to be sure mobile users get reliable coverage.
The second thing is the collaboration and the predictable evolution needed for enterprise standardization. RIM works directly with enterprise CTOs and their teams gathering feedback, reviewing road map futures (sometimes years ahead and in detail under NDA) and testing early release technology. Plus RIM enables key partners to have early access to technology so they can ship simultaneously with new BlackBerry releases.
With a decade-long lead in meeting the needs of both enterprise IT organizations and enterprise mobile users, and by being so easy to do business with, the BlackBerry already won the battle for the enterprise. That said, iPhone has smart developers and an ecosystem of thousands of application vendors that is clearly giving the BlackBerry a run for the money in the enterprise. Game on!
Reed is CMO and VP of Products at BoxTone. BoxTone software is trusted by more than 230 of the world's leading enterprises and government agencies to manage, monitor and support their smartphone platforms including BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Palm Pre, Nokia and Windows Mobile devices. Contact him at Brian.Reed@BoxTone.com.