Posts Tagged ‘RIM’

There’s a fine balance to strike between trying new things, staying on top of evolving products, markets, and technology, while concentrating forces for the main effort. That main effort should always be based on the company’s core strength, the centre of gravity that gives it balance and stability. The company’s other activities should be developed to protect the centre of gravity so resources can be concentrated on the latter and also to explore the margins of the business, so that senior leaders can anticipate strategic changes, new technologies, and new entrants. If you dissipate your forces, there will be insufficient resources for the main push when its needed. This is what happened to Blackberry. The company’s leadership failed to assess and leverage its centre of gravity in secure enterprise and institutional communications and messaging. The company that came up with a secure communications system that had the confidence of the US Department of Defense was unable to build on that critical strength. Instead, RIM sat on its enterprise advantage in security and reliability and tried to compete in the consumer market against Apple and the numerous Android devices. RIM dissipated its limited resources on fighting against Apple and Android devices in the consumer market, when it should have been concentrating on strengthening its efforts in the enterprise and institutional sectors.

Food for Thought
You have to decide on what can’t, or shouldn’t, be done. This will free up resources to focus the main effort on leveraging the business’s centre of gravity, with secondary and supporting roles to explore at the margins, scout out new opportunities and threats, and protect the company’s main advantages.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

The great 19th century military theorist Clausewitz wrote that — I’m paraphrasing here — the first and most important task of a leader is to understand the type of conflict or struggle he is engaged in. Poker players apparently have a more mundane way of putting things. If you’re the only one at the table who’s wondering who the patsy is, then you’re it.

In the last week we’ve seen just how amateurish the Obama administration is when it comes to the Great Game of great power relations, war, and diplomacy. The Keystone Cops routine that is the Obama policy on Syria’s use of chemical weapons would be funny were the consequences and implications not so deadly and ominous. President Putin of Russia is not so dilettantish in his approach to Syria. He sees the civil war there as a struggle to maintain and reinforce his influence with thugish regimes all around the world. It is also a confirmation within Russia, if any was needed, of his status as a classic strongman. The situation is even starker for Assad, for whom this war is not just a political struggle, but a fight to the death. Given what has happened to other dictators after their downfall throughout the world (Mubarak, Khaddafi, Saddam), it’s not surprising that he sees things in this light. The US is playing with its credibility and standing on the world stage and its ability to influence the policies and alignments of other nations. Obama is also gambling with the prerogatives of the office of president as commander-in-chief. All because he apparently doesn’t have the stomach for the fight — which came with the job — or because he doesn’t realize how significant the current crisis is.

We can see this all the time in organizations and business. A market leading company sees a new product as a minor irritant or insignificant (as one of RIM’s co-CEOs Mike Laziridis said on seeing the first iPhone) whereas the attacker sees it as a matter of life and death. An executive is playing nice, but there are other people in the company who are gunning for his position.

Food for Thought
Are you in a fight? Do you know its nature? Do you competitors or opponents view it in the same light? Are you willing to pay the price to win or to “fall on your sword”?

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Meat and Potatoes Blackberry

Posted: April 30, 2013 in Op-Ed
Tags: , , ,

That’s not a new recipe to get your starch.

According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, the new Blackberry Q10 launched over the weekend in the UK and demand exceeded expectations. The new smart phone has also garnered kudos from reviewers. It incorporates RIM’s latest version of its operating system, but more importantly it incorporates the BB’s traditional physical keyboard.

Apparently there is pent up demand for a ‘meat and potatoes’ BB smart phone, one that sticks with the company’s roots. As a Canadian, I hope RIM continues to sail through the doldrums it’s been in for the last few years. The company’s been hard hit by Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS, but by sticking to the basics of what has made the BB’s success — a keyboard and peerless security — the company is building on its strengths.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

A few days ago I wrote on this blog about how Research In Motion (RIM) is possibly moving away from exclusive reliance on the BlackBerry to provide its secure connectivity services for corporations and institutions. Basically, this means that RIM is trying to redefine itself from simply a provider of secure mobile communications devices to something with more general application.

Such acts of corporate redefinition go to the heart of what a company is all about. They usually involve reworking the company mission to a more general value statement. This is how IBM has stayed relevant and strong over a period of decades. At first IBM was just what the name says, a manufacturer of ‘business machines,’ initially punch card readers. Then they got into other office and business machines, office automation, etc. At this point, what started as a business machines company has become a major business partner for any company or organization that wants to fully leverage all its information and knowledge. In other words, IBM has redefined and reinvented itself progressively over the years from business machines to knowledge management.

Simply put, that is the way to redefine your company purpose. You have to go from something that is initially very specific to something that is progressively more general and abstract. Some companies, such as Google, are very general in their mission right from the start: It’s mission is to organize all the information on the web. We can see that even that is widening to organizing all of the information and knowledge in the world. Whether they’ll succeed or not is an open question at this stage, but it shows the more of generalization and abstraction that must underlie all such redefinitions of purpose.

In my next posting, I’ll elaborate on the questions you need to ask yourself in order to go through such a redefinition process.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

Research in Motion yesterday announced a new service to allow corporate IT departments to manage fleets of iPhones and Android phones using their secure management features.

I wrote last year at about this time that RIM had to refocus on its true strength, which is the management and security of corporate and institutional mobile digital communications. I said at this time that it was the only way that RIM would be able to maintain its differentiation in the face of the Apple and Android onslaught.

With this move, I think that RIM is finally starting to fight back in a manner that leverages its stengths and strong strategic position in providing highly secure corporate and institutional communications. This is exactly the type of savvy strategic manoeuvring that companies need to engage in to take back the initiative and go back on the offensive. I write about this extensively in my forthcoming book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How To Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

The release of the PlayBook by Research in Motion is a maneuver designed to preempt another company getting in on the secure tablet market. The negative critiques of the PlayBook that we’re seeing miss the point. RIM has been developing its tablet for too long. The company needs to get it to market, because if they don’t then someone else may develop an application or ecosystem that is just as secure and that runs on Android or iPad.

RIM has always differentiated itself by offering highly secure data communications. It’s the company’s key strength. RIM can’t really compete against the iPad or Android tablets for the consumer market. It must stay focused on the corporate market, where security and data integrity are paramount.

RIM is taking a risk, but the alternative of waiting for perfection is even riskier at this stage. Apple and Android have been making inroads in the security conscious corporate clientele. The risks can be managed because the installed base of BlackBerry clients will at least see movement and may forgive some initial errors on the part of RIM.

Richard Martin is founder and president of Alcera Consulting Inc. He brings his military and business leadership experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2011 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Research in Motion (RIM) is the world’s number one provider of secure data communications for corporate clients. Their systems are so secure that governments in many countries rely on them for their own mobile data and voice needs. In fact, some countries find their services so secure that they threatened to shut down RIM’s operations unless they could get access to the traffic for their own dubious purposes. I’m talking UAE, Indonesia, etc. Not exactly paragons of democracy or stability.

Here’s the thing though; you wouldn’t know RIM is the corporate security leader from their actions in the last few years. Instead of building on what has been an almost unassailable position in secure communications, the company has chosen to focus on the gadget that first got them into the corporate arena in the first place, the Blackberry. But now, Android developers and Apple are starting to make inroads into the corporate market by offering what they claim is a similar level of security. Only time will tell if that’s true, but if I were RIM, I would be seriously concerned about that, not about whether their latest version of the Blackberry (What’s it called again?) has made some minute gains against Android and iPhone.

Message to RIM: It’s the secure communications that you should be building on, not the gadget. Wake up before it’s too late!

Richard Martin is founder and president of Alcera Consulting Inc. He brings his military and business leadership experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2010 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Apple’s (and ATT’s) difficult introduction of the iPhone 4 should be seen by the company as warning signals. Instead, Jobs and company seem rather more interested in minimizing problems and taking their customers for granted. Case in point: When faced with reception problems with the new iPhone, Jobs tells people to “hold it different.” Really? That’s the best you can do?

I’m a big Apple fan. I have a Macbook Pro and an iPhone. However, I am seeing behavior that is classic in business. Success breeding arrogance. Maybe we should state it as a new law of nature. Meanwhile, Google is coming on strong with Android, on both phones and tablets, and other manufacturers are not giving up terrain so easily, such as RIM.

This is the perfect opportunity to move in on Apple’s turf. The technical know how and design can be created by others. The advantages that Apple has had are not forever. They have to keep moving forward and, especially, not take their admirers and customers for granted.

© 2010 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with proper attribution.