How CIOs should manage the BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry 10 may offer a lot of promise in the enterprise space but CIOs should be wary that their employees may still prefer Apple and Android devices.

Forrester Research

The BlackBerry 10 (BB10) is a beautiful device: designers Todd Wood, Don Lindsay, and their teams have done a great job with the industrial design, the swipe-rich interaction gestures, and a whole lot more.

The BB10 is a pleasure to hold, to swipe, and to carry around in a suit pants pocket.

Here are my favourite bits:

  • Thin, light, elegant, executive, with a holdable form factor and case.
  • The keyboard, with its predictive word look up and "flip into place" word completion is a pleasure for this thick-thumbed, fumble-finger typer.
  • Swipe gestures, including peeking into the inbox, the slow swipe to home position, and the pull-down configuration are a pleasure to use one-handed.

The device does have many apps, Twitter and Facebook among them. Alas, some of the apps I rely on are missing. No TripIt app. No Evernote app. No Flipboard app. No Expensify app. No Words With Friends app. And more troubling, I found one app that appeared to be a Chinese counterfeit and seems now to have been so. Maybe RIM's "portothon" strategy to help Android developers port their apps to BlackBerry's QNX operating system is working. But there may be a few approval and copyright holes to plug in their process. I know this company, and I know they'll figure that part out.

But the real challenge for CIOs is that employees have moved on to Apple and Android (particularly Samsung's stellar line-up). Forrester surveys the information workforce globally to find out how they use technology to get work done. It's a goldmine of insight and reality. And the reality for the US market is that for firms of all sizes and industries, BlackBerry has only 6 per cent of the information workforce installed base.

So BlackBerry is playing some serious catchup. For a view of the consumer landscape, see my colleague Charlie Golvin's post

Here's what CIOs should do:

  • Upgrade your BES so you're ready to support the new BlackBerry devices. You'll be able to manage iOS and Android devices as well. RIM is making this relatively painless to do.
  • Add BB10 and its cousin with a keyboard to your approved list. It will pass muster with your security team.
  • Experiment with the dual-mode -- personal work -- features to see if it works for your workforce and if it solves your device-wipe/content-control problem. (I'm still skeptical on this one, but hey I've been wrong before.)
  • Wait for the demand. That RIM's job: to convince your employees that this is the device for them.

Then and only then should you target BB10 for your business apps. In other words, take a "get-ready then wait" approach. I don't know about you, but I'm rooting for this operating system and platform if only to have more choice in the market.

Ted Schadler is a Forrester analyst who serves cheif information officers. This post was originally published on Forrester Blogs on January 30 . Republished with permission.