Blackberry Hires New Enterprise-Oriented COO

by Jeff Wiener on July 22, 2014

Having long since conceded the fight for the consumer mobile market segment to heavyweights Android and iOS, Blackberry’s slim hope of survival has been squarely placed on the company’s renewed focus on enterprise, a return to its roots as a strong business-oriented mobile company. Perhaps as a sign of the company’s slow reversal of fortunes, gone are the days of reports of massive layoffs and divesting assets, replaced by the heartening announcement that Blackberry has hired a new chief operating officer, one who comes with an entire career of corporate focus.

Blackberry announced Monday that it has hired Marty Beard as the new COO, placing him charge of marketing, application developing, customer care, and quality, all of which Blackberry’s CEO John Chen describes as “cross-functional organizations.” Beard will also be tasked with managing “best practices and processes” for the company, so perhaps not all the bad news of layoffs is behind us.

But isn’t that how things have been for Blackberry of late, every bit of positive news accompanied by a healthy dose of something bad? Consider even the company’s entire renewed focus on enterprise, a rebranding that was supposed to see Blackberry finally carve out its own niche, away from the dominance of Apple and Android, only to see that Apple has followed Blackberry into the business world, looking to carve out a niche of its own.

Things are looking brighter for Blackberry CEO John Chen; at least they were last week before he found out that Apple has partnered with IBM to bolster its enterprise presence. But the reason behind Chen’s optimism is that his company finally has a purpose once again, foregoing any sort of fight for the consumer market in order to focus on the enterprise sector. In fact, Chen is so optimistic that he has given his firm an 80 percent chance to recover, up from the 50 percent he estimated when he first took the office.

Having recognized the mistake of trying to compete with flashier brands like Apple and Android, Chen repositioned Blackberry into a position of strength, offering the business world comprehensive mobile communications solutions, and initially it seems to be working.

It’s no wonder then that the latest news out of the company is the hiring of an enterprise savvy COO, as the appointment of Beard is simply one more step towards establishing a strong foothold in the business market. Beard formerly held the position of CEO at customer service cloud app provider LiveOps, and he was also the president of Sybase’s mobile messaging and commerce unit, in addition to his work at Oracle.

But as I said, if Blackberry didn’t have bad luck, it really wouldn’t have any luck at all, for as the company finally finds its purpose and hires the right management pieces to enact Chen’s new enterprise vision we hear the news that Apple and IBM have entered into one of the most unlikely partnerships in tech history, uniting two once arch-enemies in the PC world to create a dynamic and credible enterprise mobile presence. Good news for Apple though, who is likely hoping to capitalize on its accidental enterprise market share thanks to the BYOD movement; a movement, it should be noted, that initiated Blackberry’s downfall to begin with.

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