BlackBerry (previously RIM) finally revealed the new BlackBerry 10 OS and their new line of smartphones: BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones, two devices which will be running the new BlackBerry 10 OS. The Z10 is intended to be their flagship device touted as a competitor to the likes of Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s S3. While the purpose of this blog is not to review the features of the new BlackBerry devices or compare them against the likes of the iPhone 5, Lumia or Galaxy S3, I would in fact like to discuss one specific feature introduced with the BB10: the BlackBerry Balance.
Firstly, BlackBerry Balance is available only for enterprise users as it requires the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to function. BlackBerry Balance technology is designed to separate and secure work and personal information on BlackBerry devices in a simple and secure way. This essentially means that users’ personal apps can’t access work information, and work information can’t be copied and pasted into personal apps or email messages. This enable IT administrators to wipe all work information on BlackBerry devices, be it employee owned or company owned, if the device is lost or stolen. Essentially sandboxing the business and personal profiles and apps, this new feature is ideal for employees having two phones – one for work and one for leisure.
This brings us to the second stage of our blog: BYOD. The consumerisation of business devices reflects the change in consumer attitude towards bringing in their own devices to the work place. The need to manage consumer-owned devices highlights the importance of employee privacy, as individuals use the same device for both personal and business use. There is a need to manage and provide security as well as privacy for employees – who use their mobile devices for personal email, instant messaging, mobile banking, payments and social networking and for enterprise uses – for company system access, corporate emails, contacts and other sensitive data.
There is also a need to define the level of monitoring on a consumer owned device by the enterprise. Enterprises often monitor company owned devices using some MDM (mobile device management) software – especially its use within the company network, key-stroke logging, outbound emails and at times location of the device. However, it becomes complicated for the enterprise to do the same with a consumer owned device.
Hence, enterprises need to consider the level of monitoring and to educate the consumers of privacy related issues and at times even about legal concerns. Employers also need to establish a level of trust with their employees regarding device monitoring and employees need to be assured of personal privacy in order to adopt a successful BYOD strategy.
Now, to our final question – will the BlackBerry 10 devices address this issue? Probably Yes. BlackBerry Balance is aimed at embracing BYOD and enabling enterprises to have complete visibility on all the devices that an employee owns.
Our research indicates that the number of employee owned smartphones and tablets used in the enterprise will more than double by 2014, reaching 350 million, compared to almost 150 million this year. You can access this study here.