As BlackBerry searches for its escape velocity, we need to keep an eye on one key question: Will BlackBerry be smart in the way the company applies its capital to acquisitions and how?
BlackBerry is making its second major investment under its new management. BlackBerry is buying Secursmart, a German company who is well known for securing mobile VoIP (Voice over IP) calls. The terms of the deal are not disclosed.
This looks smart deal for four of reasons:
1) It aligns with Blackberry current customers and prospects. Secursmart is known for it is in high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, highly regulated enterprises and telecommunications service providers. These are all key customer segments for BlackBerry.
2) The solution is platform agnostic. Secursmart has solutions for Android, iOS, BlackBerry and its announced intent to support Windows Phone. Secursmart has solutions for mobile to mobile as well as PBX interfaces. While I think that BlackBerry under its new management may have an idea to become the solution of record for securing the mess that is Android security, the company must be platform agnostic – simply because its customers are, if nothing else.
3) Secursmart, like BlackBerry, is not U.S. based. While I am an absolute patriot of the U.S., it is equally quite clear that many of my domestic and international clients are growing increasingly worried over the NSA fiasco. This purchase may be a welcome relief and a solution to ongoing eavesdropping and data security worries on the minds of many CIO’s.
4) BlackBerry and Secursmart already know how to dance together.
BlackBerry buying Secursmart also signals three proof points if nothing else, that we should all keep in mind as we bear witness to whether BlackBerry can complete its intended transformation:
1. BlackBerry continues to follow through on its promise to raise the stakes against all who vie for a share of the mobile security market by building or buying the necessary assets the company believes it must have to grow share.
2. Blackberry buying Secursmart is a second indicator of how un-magical Gartner’s ranking system is by failing to gauge ( or perhaps even consider) whether a company has both the management quality and capital structure to execute against an effective vision.
3. That BlackBerry intends to reassume its place on the mantel where CIO’s shop for scalable and layered, strong security and identity management platform with confidence, and without getting fired.
During BlackBerry’s security event held in New York City this week, I heard something I have not heard publicly or privately from a single client of any vendor. Not One. Ever. The statement was bold and seems unrehearsed.
Peter Lesser, Director of Global Technology for New York Law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom said that its corporate clients that have strict compliance routinely audit his firms technology and process on securing data. Lesser said that when the question of mobile security comes up and he answers; “BlackBerry, there are never follow up questions.” He said it was quite clear that the auditors see BlackBerry as the gold standard. Perhaps relevant but not disclosed during the event, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Torys LLP are both BlackBerry customers an serve as legal advisors to the company.
What I tell my clients is that mobile device security is easy. They need to think beyond the device, and the app. Securing end-to-end data and identity in mobile are the two hard problems. These are make or break items for IoT, M-Heath, M-Payments and across the energy sector. These are also issues related to the overall thesis of consumer privacy as this topic continues to become more visible as a nations security issue being driven by mobile, cloud and big data.
My sense is that these are the two areas where BlackBerry is focusing its energy, its investments and where they intend to lead the conversation. Time will tell. BlackBerry has the capital and new smart management who realize that devices are an-end-to-the-means, not a means to end. In the end, it is all about how well BlackBerry maintains its focus and how well it can execute.
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