We see great opportunities ahead of us – John Chen

John Chen, Blackberry, Code Conference

It has been a  little less than a year ago that John Chen took over as CEO of BlackBerry in a time of transition and hardship, Chen has slowly began to restructure the company bringing it back to profitability and renewing BlackBerry’s focus to the enterprise market, in what seems to be the right move.

John Chen took some time via an e-mail interview to answer several questions about BlackBerry regaining focus, returning to profitability and more:

You started a restructuring process to cut costs and bring the right focus. Is that process now over? How would you leverage the new organisation to turn around the company?

I’m happy to say that we have completed the restructuring and have started to hire in key areas of the business. Getting our costs and organisational structure right was a difficult, but crucial phase in our turnaround plan.

With our new structure we are now well-positioned to provide our enterprise customers with the best, most secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions. We are also well positioned to lead in the machine-to-machine space and the Internet of Things. BlackBerry is known for security — it’s in everything we do — so we will apply our learnings from enterprise mobility to address the emerging connectivity and security needs within the Internet of Things.

Recently you said that the chances of BlackBerry survival have improved from 50 per cent to 80 per cent. How will you ensure that the 20 per cent risk associated is mitigated over the next six months?

I believe we have mitigated that risk already. With a new leadership team, a clear vision and a completed restructuring process, BlackBerry is set up to move forward in a positive direction.

We also have a strong cash and investment balance that allows us to do things like make strategic investments such as acquisitions that deliver new capabilities and increased value for our customers. Risk is always there, but I am confident we have taken the necessary steps to alleviate it to the degree that we can.

Has your strategy to partner with Foxconn paid off? How are models like the Z3 doing in the market?

The BlackBerry Z3 has been extremely well received in both India and Indonesia, and we continue to see strong demand for the device. Initial inventory of the device nearly sold out in India within two weeks following launch. We hear from users that they like the price, screen size and battery life. We’re listening to what our customers are saying and plan to continue to deliver competitive devices.

We will continue to leverage the Foxconn partnership, as well as our partnerships with other key manufacturing partners, to deliver innovative products in a more timely and cost-effective manner.

Despite the new BB10 operating system, BlackBerry market share has not improved. Do you think that the company needs to rethink the devices strategy?

BlackBerry devices are part of our unparalleled ability to provide the most secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions from the smartphone to the data centre. We’ll continue to sell devices as long as there are customers who value them.

How do you see the threat from Chinese players like Xiaomi and Huawei, which are cornering a significant share of the new sales?

Frankly, we don’t see those Chinese players you mentioned as threats in our target market. We see them playing more at the low end. And it’s important to remember that BlackBerry is more than just a smartphone manufacturer. We are a mobile solutions company that takes a broader approach to servicing the needs of customers looking for secure technologies that drive productivity, communication and collaboration.

How significant is the enterprise market in India for Blackberry?

The enterprise market continues to grow in India and holds immense untapped potential for BlackBerry, especially in sectors like retail, insurance, banking, healthcare, construction and professional services. We are seeing a great opportunity to grow our presence in India as the enterprise market here begins to embrace mobility as a vital part of doing business. BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) has more than 1,000 installations in India, which is significant considering we only launched it in the beginning of 2013.

Overall what are your targets for BlackBerry India when it comes to contribution to the company’s global growth game plan?

We don’t provide financial projections at the country level but our expectation is that BlackBerry will continue to thrive in India because our strategy is so well-aligned with India’s market needs. We see great opportunities ahead of us as we continue to make significant headway on our plan to return BlackBerry to growth and profitability both in India and globally.

Source: Hindu Business Line