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BlackBerry CEO Chen on his plan to win back enterprise customers

Matt Hamblen | Jan. 8, 2014
Recently-installed BlackBerry CEO John Chen is on a mission to restore the ailing company to financial health, largely by restoring faith in BlackBerry among corporate CIO's and other traditional enterprise customers.

"I do have a consumer play with Foxconn ... especially outside the U.S. I don't want to leave those markets, but the main focus of mine is to restore enterprise confidence," Chen said. "For the immediate future, I'm going to be in the enterprise."

One potential way to win back enterprise users, Chen hinted, could be with an enterprise-grade BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service, one that uses the SMS channel as a way for companies and government agencies to have an emergency communications network during catastrophic network outages.

"I could make BBM the enterprise emergency [channel] for people who want serious" connectivity, he said. BBM could be used for voice calls, and eventually for videoconferencing. "There's a lot of value, a lot of stuff to deliver to customers," he said.

Some government customers have told Chen that BlackBerry's network stayed up when others failed during various crises and emergencies. That gives Chen confidence he can win back enterprise customers despite the recommendations from some analysts that their clients find alternatives to BlackBerry.

Part of his job is going is to convince CIO's to take back some of the control they have lost in recent years as workers increasingly used their own devices in a sometimes chaotic bring-your-own-device world. "In some companies, the CIO has completely lost control and I'm trying to convince them they need to regain control," Chen said. "There's has been a loss of way."

"BlackBerry is definitely still the most secure [mobile] solution," Chen said. "The question is, does [argument] bring me enough business? In the long term, it will."

 

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