BlackBerry World 2012: BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in Action

By Jennifer Lawinski  |  Posted 05-03-2012

BlackBerry World 2012: BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in Action

Research in Motion (RIM) is hoping its new mobile device management solution -- which accommodates devices running on Apple and Android mobile operating systems as well as BlackBerry -- will boost the company's profits as its BlackBerry smartphone market share declines. Martha Stewart Living is one of the first companies to use BlackBerry Mobile Fusion to facilitate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.

RIM rolled out its BlackBerry Mobile Fusion mobile-device management platform in April. The platform is designed to enable IT departments to manage iOS and Android devices, in addition to BlackBerrys. The software is aimed at IT teams trying to keep their data secure while still making users happy as the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend drives a growing number of personal devices into the enterprise.

"Part of the consumerization of IT - what that really and truly means - is the emancipation of the end user," said Alan Panezic, RIM's VP Enterprise Product Management and Marketing, during at a panel for press at the company's BlackBerry World 2012 conference in Orlando on May 2. "End users are looking for the same type of elegance and experience in their personal lives in everything they do."

For CIOs, that means dealing with the newfound "power of the end user" as they begin bringing their mobile devices to work - whether or not they're authorized to do so, he said.

And IT departments need to be able to handle "whatever devices are of significance in the enterprise," whether they're Apple, Android or BlackBerry devices, Panezic said. Those are "some pretty substantial challenges for IT."

Managing access across the firewall and expanding VPNs "becomes very expensive for the CIOs, when you're trying to integrate across bit-solutions to bring something together," Panezic said. "[That's a] unique selling proposition for BlackBerry Mobile Fusion -- the extension of an existing architecture makes it extremely simple for our customers … And you're not throwing a whole bunch of additional headcount at this solution."

The initial launch of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion included an on-premise product, but the company announced that managed service and cloud editions are forthcoming.

Martha Stewart Living Put BlackBerry Mobile Fusion to Work

Steve Rollins, VP of IT for Martha Stewart Living, said his company had dramatically increased the use of mobile devices by allowing users to bring their own devices and access corporate data using Mobile Fusion.

"When we first rolled out Mobile Fusion . . . we made a conscious choice that we were going to roll it out from the bottom up," Rollins said, meaning that those devices requiring the lowest level of security were given access first. Those that required the most security were kept on corporate-owned BlackBerry smartphones.

About 17 percent of employees had company-owned BlackBerrys, Rollins said. Giving additional users the ability to bring their own devices resulted in 68 percent of employees getting mobile access to their corporate email and other work-related data, bringing the company's mobile user rate up to 85 percent.

Before implementing Mobile Fusion, Rollins said the company had a problem pushing out apps across platforms and keeping everyone's apps in sync. Now, he said, "we can just push that info out. That had been a headache for us for a year and a half, and it was a real surprise how smoothly that went. We didn't see that coming."

Another thing Rollins said his team found surprising when beginning the Mobile Fusion rollout was the number of  users who approached the team about connecting their personal BlackBerry devices. Martha Stewart Living had limited its first rollout to Android and iOS devices. "We had more questions about 'But I have a BlackBerry,' than we thought," Rollins said.