27 March 2014 | David Walker
Five years ago, BlackBerry was the de facto enterprise mobility brand. The technology was reliable, relatively cost effective and easy to manage.
The company has since endured a dramatic change in fortunes as its devices have failed to keep pace with an increasingly competitive smartphone market. BlackBerry has fallen behind its rivals Android, iOS and Microsoft-enabled devices in terms of customer perception, leading to mass migration away.
While no two organisations are the same, here is some useful advice for purchasers on how to switch platforms most effectively:
• Check your existing contract. Any potential migration will depend on any contractual constraints that might be in place. It is not uncommon for enterprises to be tied to long-term deals. Check if a break clause exists and if there are financial penalties to triggering it.
• Know what you want to replace your BlackBerry with. Although there are many compelling smartphones on the market, each one will present different challenges to an enterprise, based on the operating systems (OS) they support. Android is the most popular global OS for consumers but its multiple versions can make enterprise mobile device management policies difficult to manage and enforce. iOS is usually the employees’ choice, but Apple can be prohibitively expensive to maintain, manage and replace (especially since iPhone warranties only last one year). Make sure that your IT people are consulted on this migration. Ensuring full compatibility with existing IT systems and policies will be crucial in ensuring a seamless transition.
• Know what your data usage is across all devices. Most operators and OEMs will try and convince you to buy more data than you need. This can have severe cost implications to large enterprises that overestimate their requirements. But be aware that moving to any smartphone from BlackBerry typically results in much higher data usage due to the richer user experience they offer.
• Understand how new devices and operating systems will impact existing security policies and internal procedures. One of the hallmarks of BlackBerry devices, which endeared them to procurement and IT departments, was their embedded security protocols. This enabled enterprises to centrally control and restrict access to content as required. This cannot be replicated on the latest breed of smartphones without mobile device management programmes being put in place. Enterprises will need to involve HR in the creation of these policies to agree appropriate usage levels according to relevant job specs and responsibilities.
☛ David Walker is VP EMEA, strategic consulting at Tangoe and a member of CIPS