BlackBerry wants the world to know that its pivot from a hardware company to an enterprise software and security company is complete.
At the BlackBerry Security Media Roundtable this morning, President of Global Sales, Carl Wiese told Which-50 that BlackBerry is a dramatically different company to what it was three years ago.
Around 91 per cent of BlackBerry’s top line revenue came from software over the last quarter.
“Over the last four quarters, that figure is north of 80 per cent,” he said. “We have made the transformation to a software company, first and foremost.”
The president of global sales says the company is still very much invested in research and development (R&D), with 23 per cent of its revenue invested in R&D, and a 38,000 strong patent portfolio.
“From an overall financial perspective, whether you’re looking at our income statements or balance sheet, the company has really made a miraculous turnaround,” he said.
“If you go back, our gross margins went from 28 per cent to 75 per cent. Over the last four quarters we did about $1 billion in terms of topline revenue. We’ve had eight consecutive quarters of operating profit and $2.5 billion of cash in the bank, with very little debt.
“We have really transformed the company, both in terms of go to market, strategy, and from a financial perspective. The analysts are taking a very different view of BlackBerry today compared to where we were three years ago where there probably was not a whole lot of good things to write about us. Today it’s a very different thing.”
Wiese says that from a customer perspective, BlackBerry is known by the company it keeps. Its two biggest markets are the financial services sector and central governments. It counts nine out of the top 10 banks as its customers, along with all of the G7 governments and eight out of the top 10 law firms around the world.
Hugh Ujhazy, Associate Vice President of the Internet of Things in the Asia Pacific IDC told Which-50 BlackBerry’s pivot from hardware to software, having given up on mobile devices a number of years ago, is a return to its DNA.
“BlackBerry’s DNA was never about the devices,” Ujhazy says. “BlackBerry built devices because there were no other devices. You had to have the full guaranteed chain. The key was always the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that interfaced between what was inside the enterprise, and what was on the mobile device. It was solving that problem. And I think we are continuing to solve that problem. But I think the devices were a bit of distraction. They were certainly the public face of BlackBerry. And moving away from it and re-engaging with that software legacy is what I see as exciting about this transformation.”
IoT and Security
Ujhazy tells Which-50 that data is the new oil.
“It’s the lubricant for the transformed enterprise,” he says. “What that does is put a whole bunch of responsibility onto the data.”
One of the challenges facing enterprise organisations is that they may not know where their data has come from at any given time.
“It may have come from a device that I don’t have any access to, or any audit trail back to,” Ujhazy says. “When we started driving transformation in the business, we had to make sure that the data we were using to drive that transformation was authenticated, that it has trust built into it.
“That means I not only need to secure the device, I need to secure the connection, and at every single stage of that evolution.”
As business moves into a world of IoT and data driven solutions, the devices and sensors they will come to rely on that are untouched by human hands will only increase over time.
“I have to make sure I can update them,” says Ujhazy, “that any attempt to hack or change them is managed and understood clearly. We speculate that if you put a device out in a factory, or on the top of a light pole, it’s going to sit there for 10 years, at least. That’s how long we have to spend, to get any sort of payback. In that 10 years, computing power will multiply in its capability. So any threat actor is now looking at a 10-year-old device, if it is not maintained. That means not sending someone out with a ladder and a wrench, it means doing over the air updates.
“That could be my truck, car, camera, all these things we’re going to use to consolidate and build that picture of the world we live in.
“BlackBerry has a legacy of protecting the enterprise at the boundary and protecting devices. That legacy has now moved into the current age.”
BlackBerry acquired German secure voice company, SecuSmart in 2014, which it provides to governments around the world to prevent eavesdropping on communications, both in terms of voice and text. It also recently acquired AtHoc, a mass communication and crisis management communication company. BlackBerry’s Crisis Communications Specialisation tool helps to maintain business continuity when an incident occurs. These, tools are being deployed by 75 per cent of US Federal Government employees, and are currently in operation at the G7 Summit in Quebec, Canada, along with Melbourne’s critical incident communication network, Melbourne Shield and Macquarie University, among others.
It also provides security solutions for airlines, trucking, freight companies, cargo ships and the automotive industry, securing up to 120 million vehicles from leading manufacturers.