Innovate or Die: An Exclusive with BlackBerry ANZ MD Matthew Ball

Matthew Ball

An exclusive from The Australian Business Executive

Matthew Ball is the Managing Director for BlackBerry in Australia and New Zealand, overseeing sales, marketing, retail, distribution and partner relations.

Matthew joined BlackBerry ANZ as Marketing Director in 2011, and appointed Managing Director in 2012. He has over 15 years’ experience in marketing, business and commercial roles, principally in the Australian technology and telecommunications sector.

Prior to joining BlackBerry, Matthew was Group Marketing Manager at Microsoft Australia for the Xbox and Entertainment Division and Head of Mobile Data Business for Vodafone Australia.

Matthew discusses the revamp BlackBerry has gone through, leading to a new innovative range of products.

Jesse Landry: There’s new interest around BlackBerry at the moment with your move away from mobile phone technology towards cloud software. How did this come about?

Matthew Ball: Like any businesses operating in the technology sector, BlackBerry has been through a period of disruption and evolution here in Australia and New Zealand, and around the world. This remains constant, and the lessons we’ve learnt over the past few years have seen us change the way we do business and how we serve our customers in what is a new era of mobility.

Just to be clear, BlackBerry is still innovating in hardware. We haven’t moved away from that – just look at the BlackBerry Passport. There is no mobile device more secure than a BlackBerry operated on our network, and our focus is to design devices for people who want to get things done, securely. Just ask President Obama in the USA, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.

With the mobility landscape constantly changing and becoming more competitive, we’ve adapted our business model to become software-centric. Today, BlackBerry is a software company that also makes smartphones for people that are super-productive and just want to get stuff done securely in real-time, wherever they are. Sometimes the fact we sell both software and hardware is difficult for people to grasp, but our organisation is geared to help businesses of any size, regardless of mobile platform, use BlackBerry architecture to securely manage their mobility strategy.

The foundation for all of this is our enterprise mobility platform, BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12, or BES12. Available on premise or as a cloud service, BES12 enables businesses of any size to achieve their desired levels of secured mobile productivity, regardless of what devices people bring to work, are provided with, or what apps they use.

We have also made some strategic acquisitions to take secure communications and collaboration even further. Examples of this are Secusmart, a leader in high security voice and text encryption, and WatchDox, which allows users to protect, share and work with their files on any device.

JL: Do you think these are the key factors that have kept BlackBerry relevant?

MB: BlackBerry has remained relevant because security and productivity are our main strengths and these things continue to be among the top priorities for CIOs and IT professionals. Knowing that corporate data is safe, regardless of where your employees are working, isn’t just about peace-of-mind, it’s about protecting your competitive advantage and in some cases, those individuals responsible for corporate data.

When it comes to the question ‘Why BlackBerry’, our customers usually tell us it’s our unique combination of encryption, app wrapping and secure infrastructure which can manage any device through a single console. But most of all, it’s how they can leverage this for optimal workforce productivity in a secured environment.

We are also hearing from customers about cost savings and future-proofing and why a comprehensive enterprise mobility platform is better than trying to glue many products together. The Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend saw the mobile device management (MDM) market explode and research shows it continues to grow, but it is now starting to commoditise as businesses are consolidating their IT investments.

According to our global 2014 study ‘Moving Targets in Risk’, only 35 percent of executives, risk compliance officers and IT managers within large organisations are very confident that their data assets are fully protected from unauthorised access via mobile devices. In fact, more than two-thirds believe mobile devices are the weakest link in their enterprise security framework.

That’s alarming given security breaches can happen all too easily. The Australian Federal Police told the ABC that more than 3,500 cyber-attacks on Australia from foreign countries and criminals were reported in April 2014, and the threat is only going to increase.

Whether it’s a targeted attack, or an employee using a dating app on a work smartphone and unknowingly downloading malicious content or simply leaving a tablet behind on public transport, the risks to sensitive corporate data are real and growing. That’s particularly important when it comes to customer data – information that is often prized in the eyes of hackers wanting to make a quick buck at the expense of unsuspecting individuals.

The easy option would be to lock-down devices and restrict the flow of data but that’s simply not workable in our digital age. The approach to security today must be about enabling people to do more by implementing the right level of control to allow users to access corporate data anywhere, without compromising it. We have transformed our business to enable customers to do just that.

While the landscape we play in has evolved and will continue to do so, what is clear is that today’s mobile-first world does not supplant the core capabilities of what governments and businesses really need: secure and private communications, productivity and efficiency gains, and real-time collaboration. These are all competencies that make up BlackBerry’s DNA, so it’s no fluke BlackBerry has remained entrenched in most of the major governments and major enterprises around the world, as well as here in Australia and New Zealand

JL: Considering it wasn’t long ago the company found itself struggling, can you outline the strategy to secure your position in these new market segments?

MB: At the beginning of our transformation, BlackBerry introduced a new leadership team under CEO, John Chen, who looked at how to structure the business for a new age of mobility. This meant creating four distinct lines of business that all enable a connected world: Enterprise Services and Security, Devices, Messaging (BBM) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

BlackBerry has focused on returning to its roots in business and government, continuing to deliver devices and services designed for individuals and organisations that want maximum output and productivity; with the peace of mind their data over mobile is secured.

Most importantly, BlackBerry has put the customer first. This has resulted in changing the way we innovate and go to market, breaking down walls to make enterprise mobility more cost-effective, simpler and easier for customers to manage. We’ve opened up to let customers and partners use our secure network to manage any device, solving BYOD and compliance headaches. We are both competing and partnering, for example, announcing a strategic global partnership in March 2015 with Samsung, where BES12 will manage Samsung Knox devices to deliver defence-grade Android security. Here in Australia, we are seeing a lot of interest in the BlackBerry and Samsung solution.

We’ve also invested in partnering with companies to deliver services in vertical industries such as health. A great example is NantHealth which runs a cloud-based clinical operating system in the US that connects the doctor’s office or hospital with the medical network and the payment system. NantHealth and BlackBerry are combining secure cloud-based and supercomputing services to provide data integration, decision support and analytics, allowing care providers to crunch huge amounts of data to aid in accurate diagnoses.

Finally, by introducing cloud-based solutions like BES12 Cloud, even the smallest businesses can have low cost access to all the benefits of BlackBerry security, with no need for in-house IT expertise.

The strategy was to bring it all together, not just offer individual components. From hardware, to network, to software and services that secure everything, including IoT end-points, we are well placed to solve our customers’ challenges in a way individual mobile device management vendors simply are not.

JL: Can you elaborate on the product?

MB: BES12 is the latest innovation in enterprise mobility that lets organisations manage all their mobile solutions across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Samsung KNOX and BlackBerry devices.

BlackBerry secures devices with an end-to-end architecture that secures data on the device, through the connection, back to behind the firewall, via BES12. The model enables a unique level of control and security that is trusted by government agencies and regulated industry. All of this is underpinned by BlackBerry’s renowned global, secure network. Encrypted end-to-end, BES12 consolidates and routes all traffic through a single port for ease-of-administration and tight control of mission-critical traffic and data.

Going far beyond basic mobile device management, it’s available physically (on-premise) or as a virtual cloud solution. BES12 Cloud is best suited for small and medium businesses, as well as large enterprises in non-regulated verticals. It’s geared towards businesses looking to manage a range of mobile devices, protect their corporate data and enable employee productivity. Simple set-up and configuration makes BES12 Cloud easy for small and medium businesses to adopt cross-platform enterprise mobility management and keep costs down.

Analyst firm IDC believes the entirely redesigned BES12 is an evolution of enterprise mobility management capabilities that reflect BlackBerry’s deep enterprise mobility experience as well as the company’s keen awareness of the market’s realities now and looking forward. (Source: IDC Technology Spotlight: Future-Proofing Enterprise Mobility with EMM Platforms, November 2014)

JL: Why is this needed?

MB: According to Gartner, with the increased growth of IoT, there are some major security concerns. When you combine a widely distributed fleet of autonomous devices that are capable of making decisions and can directly affect the physical state of people and things, you have a considerable risk to manage. Gartner says security discipline must be built in to the devices, and the networks that they rely upon in order to avoid digital business catastrophes. This includes direct threats to the health and well-being of employees and customers – an area most IT security organisations are not familiar with managing.

The era of multi-mobile platform environments and new end-points, such as wearable technology, is predicted to explode. As a result, the heat is on businesses to find affordable solutions that not only address mobile challenges, but can also be scaled for ongoing use. This is where BES12 comes in.

Smaller businesses have similar needs but are generally faced with tight budgets and lean IT support, which is why we offered the self-managed BES12 Cloud. BES12 gives users the unprecedented ability to work seamlessly and securely across any device running Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone operating systems. It also dramatically increases productivity by tailoring BlackBerry’s unique security and collaboration features to any mobile device.

JL: So BES12 is device agnostic?

MB: BES12 offers easy management of iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 smartphones and tablets, as well as a wide range of Samsung KNOX and Android for Work smartphones and tablets.

For organisations migrating from their existing BES5 solution, BES12 also offers capability to manage older BlackBerry OS devices – such as the BlackBerry Bold. We are helping many customers here in Australia to make that migration and maximise their existing BES infrastructure to manage mobility.

So, for whatever device used in an organisation, BES12 offers full flexibility and choice in managing a customer’s mobile solution, all through a simple browser interface and without complicated or expensive server installs.

JL: How do you see this product repositioning the perception of the company?

MB: Ongoing innovation of BES12, plus the introduction of new services such as BBM Meetings for easy mobile conferencing and BlackBerry WorkLife for split-billing of personal and work mobile use, helps to cement BlackBerry’s repositioning as a software-centric company with security, privacy and productivity at its core. BES12 is also helping smaller businesses, not just large enterprises, think strategically and act preventatively when it comes to security, rather than react in hindsight.

But we offer more than that. Take Watchdox for example. Major data breaches are mounting and we hear of new ones almost daily. The question is whether we are investing our security resources in the right places because the one asset that is often overlooked is arguably the most important – the data itself. Compared to other file sync and share services out there, Watchdox offers true data-centric security with multiple deployment capabilities both on-premises and in the cloud.

WatchDox security travels with documents to give organisations full visibility and control over how files are edited, copied, printed or forwarded. The solution also allows users to revoke access or delete files remotely, and gives administrators the ability to remotely lock or remove access to files compromised in a data breach. This is ideal for the financial sector and other regulated industries which need full visibility and control over how files are edited, copied, printed or forwarded.

The missing ingredient in most end-to-end security frameworks is digital rights management, or DRM. DRM-protected documents are able to prevent unauthorised users from accessing them, and can be set to self-destruct if they fall into the wrong hands. The trick is making DRM seamless because cumbersome and buggy applications become obstructions to business users’ productivity, collaboration and mobility. Security is only effective if it doesn’t get in the way of doing business. Otherwise, it gets circumvented. That is why Watchdox was such a great fit for BlackBerry.

JL: Are you able to discuss a customer who has implemented this?

MB: The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is the federal government agency that carries out financial statement audits of government bodies that receive Commonwealth funding. They have incredibly strict security requirements and a need for optimal productivity for its workforce of over 350 employees who constantly work off-site at different agencies.

Given that 86 percent of the ANAO’s workforce is mobile, the need for a flexible, secure platform was clear. The ANAO migrated to BES12 to manage a range of mobile devices, including BlackBerry, ioS and Android.

By providing a separation between their work and personal space, ANAO employees – who are mostly auditors – have the flexibility to access the network using the device of their choice without sensitive data being compromised.

Another customer is AEG Ogden, a company responsible for the management of the largest network of venues in the Asia Pacific region. Dirk Hoffman, their Chief Information Officer for the Middle East, Asia and Pacific provided us with a quote that read, “With a workforce that is always working remotely, on-site or on the move, we needed an agile, scalable and easy-to-manage enterprise mobility platform that could manage any device, and promise both full productivity and security of information. To meet these requirements, we have already deployed BES12 and BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic devices, and now in the process making BES12 our one-stop solution to manage all mobile devices in our APAC network.”

JL: The benefits for large corporates or Government seem obvious, but are these products applicable to the SME market?

MB: Absolutely. BES12 Cloud is built for organisations of any size. It’s secure, flexible, simple to deploy and use and cost-effective. BES12 Cloud allows admins to manage mobile device policies via a browser interface without server installations and without IT expertise.

Take for example, Morea Architects, a small but established family business with a team of ten architects and designers who regularly share and present plans and 3D design images to clients on mobile devices when outside the office or on-site. The team relies on the ability to use the latest architectural software on the move; and access to highly confidential client architectural designs from anywhere.

Morea needed an affordable mobility solution that could be as flexible and reliable as its business. As a business without an IT team, it also needed technology that was easy to deploy. Their mobile fleet includes BlackBerry Passports, as well as iPads and Android devices – which are all managed by BlackBerry.

JL: So, in your opinion what should our readers think when they hear BlackBerry?

MB: BlackBerry is a next generation mobility platform that will not only enable a whole new ecosystem, but will create opportunities and an ecosystem for everyone around it.

What put BlackBerry on the map was our smartphones, but today we are so much more than that. We are ‘The New BlackBerry’ – truly cross-platform. This means you can be an iPhone, Android or Windows 8 customer while being a BlackBerry customer too.

JL: Finally, what does the future hold for BlackBerry?

MB: BlackBerry has not just ridden the first wave of mobility disruption; we have re-engineered our business and changed our strategy to successfully and collaboratively ride the second.

The first wave of enterprise mobility was all about bringing smartphones into organisations and giving IT the tools to manage them – otherwise known as mobile device management. In the second wave, enterprises not only want to control the devices, but enable their employees to become as productive as possible – all securely and cost-effectively, of course. That’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), and BlackBerry is already the leader.

We’re also set to release new devices this year, including the recently-previewed ‘Slider’ style device, which is exciting for us and for our customers.

Our customers can look forward to a bright future for our business that plays to their needs and has mobility front and centre of our strategy.

Find out more about Blackberry and their new products at: