Four Steps To BlackBerry Success in 2011

Research In Motion must succeed on multiple fronts in order to fend off a mighty pack of competitors. Here are four areas they should focus on swiftly, including capitalizing on its recent TAT acquisition.

Fritz Nelson, Vice President, Editorial Director InformationWeek Business Technology Network

December 3, 2010

3 Min Read

RIM Must Press Its Enterprise Advantage

RIM won (and still wins) because it meets nearly every possible IT criteria, especially where security and policy enforcement is concerned. It also won (and still wins) because its push e-mail architecture is a reliable workhorse. In short, BlackBerry does a few things exceedingly well -- so well, in fact, that over the years those things have been taken for granted. The truth is, nobody has come close to matching the BES architecture. It is rock solid, it is secure, it lets administrators centrally control every single aspect of end user devices, and it is optimized for speed.

This year, RIM extended the BES capabilities in a variety of ways, making a lighter version for small businesses and individuals (BES Express), and extending the architecture to include Voice Over IP over WiFi (MVS 5.0).

Meanwhile, at its developer conference in September, RIM announced BEAM, a middleware platform for mobilizing enterprise services. Essentially, the company began building connectors on top of BES for things like Lotus Notes and Microsoft Sharepoint; the data gateway capability of BES had to be enhanced, and as RIM did this it realized the enhancements could be leveraged for more applications.

Oracle, SAP and IBM each demonstrated mobilized versions of their applications using BEAM. The BEAM server is a Java application server, with libraries that can be called from existing tools (for example, there are native Oracle Fusion services). No special SDKs.

In this scheme, the device becomes a container to accept push messages (using XML) in the typical BlackBerry user experience (like the inbox). According to RIM, a developer who creates an Oracle Fusion application just needs to add a few lines of code and they get a rich mobile client experience -- a workflow, for example, can get integrated into an inbox (or a calendar or any other native BlackBerry container; the applications can also access other BlackBerry features, like location data). There are also container libraries to build your own applications.

Oracle demonstrated an insurance adjuster application, where the application pushed the car's location, the driver's contact information, and scheduled an appointment in the calendar; the application also provided information on the car and a diagram to annotate and push back to the enterprise.

RIM describes this environment as a service model, where you can keep your business logic investment and very simply create a mobile version of that experience. Balsillie thinks this will let Playbook users, for instance, run real time business intelligence on the tablet, not to mention unified communication, workflow approvals and corporate video.

This is precisely what the enterprise needs, and if RIM can succeed it won't matter as much whether there's a BlackBerry version of Angry Birds. But in order to succeed, RIM needs to spread its newest gospel more broadly among the converted.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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About the Author(s)

Fritz Nelson

Vice President, Editorial Director InformationWeek Business Technology Network

Fritz Nelson is a former senior VP and editorial director of the InformationWeek Business Technology Network.

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