Merging work and play with the BlackBerry Platform

Enterprise

A recurring theme to the conversations I’ve been having with people in the wireless industry lately is the need for enterprises to better manage the dual personas of the modern employee: their work persona, and their play persona (my personal favorite persona). The software teams here at Research In Motion (RIM) are aware of this need and are working to address it by providing enterprises with the necessary tools via the BlackBerry® platform. I was able to catch up with Santiago Carbonell, a Handheld Software Product Manager at RIM, who is one of the people working on a new feature coming to the BlackBerry platform to do just that. Check out the interview below!

You’re working on a new feature coming to the BlackBerry platform. What’s the story behind this feature and what does it do?

Over the past 10 years, smartphones have been a huge boon to enterprises because they enable employees to take their work with them wherever they go. In the past few years, however, smartphones have started allowing us to take our personal life anywhere, through things like social networking applications and rich multimedia features.

This has led to a trend we’re seeing in the enterprise space right now, and that’s personal-liable devices, or BYODs (“Bring Your Own Device”). People are buying smartphones for that rich personal experience, but then looking to bring that smartphone into the office to take their work with them as well. What we’re working on is building a platform of coexistence between these two lives on one device.

That sounds cool, but what do you mean by coexistence?

Enterprises understandably need to be very protective of their corporate data and communications, and the BlackBerry platform has always allowed that information to be mobilized securely and efficiently through a robust set of IT policies. These policies allow enterprises to control virtually every aspect of the smartphone, down to whether or not personal email addresses or 3rd party applications can be added. This helps to prevent security no-no’s like data leakage, where confidential information sent to the smartphone via a work email is then shared via a personal email address or through some other application.

However, this means that in the interests of corporate security, some BlackBerry smartphone users can’t add their personal email accounts, access Facebook® or download 3rd party applications. RIM recognizes that enterprise employees are also consumers and we want to stay ahead of the curve by allowing those employees to do their jobs, but also take advantage of all the rich consumer-focused features that are a part of the BlackBerry smartphone.

So, for example, the average employee will be able to respond to that urgent email from their boss, but then a minute later be able to check up on their kids over BlackBerry® Messenger or Facebook, because their employer is comfortable with the security measures protecting their sensitive data.

Exactly.

So it’s a win for the company and the user, because they both get what they want.

Yep. =D Enterprises can then allow employees with their own BlackBerry smartphones to bring them into the office at no cost using products like BlackBerry® Enterprise Server Express. The employee gets access to all their corporate services (work email, work calendar… etc.) and is still able to enjoy using their BlackBerry smartphone in their personal life because the security concerns are addressed.

Without giving away the secret sauce, how is this going to work? Will the BlackBerry smartphone user notice anything different?

Really what we’re working on is keeping the enterprise data where it belongs. That means sensitive information like emails or important business contacts can stay highly secure and controlled. This is all happening in the background of the platform, so the BlackBerry smartphone user won’t really notice anything different. However, if they try to do something their company would deem unacceptable with that data, the platform is designed to help prevent it from happening and notify the user.

Thanks for this! I’m looking forward to grilling you for more information as it becomes available to put on Inside BlackBerry.

No problem!

About Douglas Soltys

Word Czar. Web 7.0 (in beta). Blogs and tweets and wonders.

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