On the heels of news that Apple would be significantly ramping up its mobile enterprise push in a partnership with IBM, BlackBerry is also looking to step up its game. Today, the company announced that it is appointing a new COO, Marty Beard.
This is a poach from the ranks of enterprise startups, but also an example of BlackBerry’s CEO bringing in people he already knows: Beard (pictured right) was most recently at LiveOps, a cloud-based contact center provider, where he had been the CEO and chairman. But previous to that, Beard worked at Sybase, which is also where Chen was once the CEO.
At Sybase, which is now owned by SAP, he was president of Sybase 365, a unit focused on mobile messaging and mobile commerce services.
BlackBerry says that Beard will be responsible for a number of areas: marketing, BlackBerry 10 apps development, customer care and quality. He starts immediately.
There are a couple of levels of significance to this news. The first is that BlackBerry is trying to demonstrate it is still continuing to push ahead in its strategy despite the competitive pressure.
This is an important message for BlackBerry to convey to the market. As we reported last week, BlackBerry’s share price dropped by more than 10% the day after Apple and IBM announced their news. The effect was not helped by the general decline that BlackBerry has seen over the last couple of years as its market share in smartphones as tumbled while Android devices and the iPhone continue to rise. On pre-market trading, BlackBerry’s stock was at $10.13 per share, up some 0.9% on Friday’s closing price.
The second area that the new appointment addresses is that this is BlackBerry trying to show that it continues to have enough credibility to attract key executives — the main factor that Chen highlighted in his own statement on the appointment.
“BlackBerry continues to attract top talent to the company,” Chen said in a statement. “Marty brings extensive experience in operations, marketing and serving customers through the best technologies and processes available.”
The third area — and the one that will ultimately be the key factor deciding the fate of BlackBerry — is that the company has been trying to figure out what it can do best in the market, and convince current and potential customers that it will be doing it better than any of its competitors.
Under Chen, BlackBerry’s focus has sharpened specifically on the enterprise market, the segment that helped it build its brand in the first place. Appointing someone like Beard, who comes from an enterprise startup focused on cloud services and previous to that worked at Sybase and Oracle, is a sign to the market of putting people in place who have specific expertise on building and executing services — not hardware — for business users.