Plan do Check Act
No company should be doing business if they don’t ensure Continuous Improvement and Innovation initiatives are never ending cycles. In short – never ending cycle – means that a company needs to do what it can to out-do itself!

A recent article in Bloomberg highlights the predicament BlackBerry got into by not doing this. They disrupted the market with a product called the Blackberry messaging device, and were in the lead of the smartphone market until Apple disrupted them.

RIM fell into complacency thinking that no-one would be able to compete with the appeal their products had for corporate clients. After all the security features, I will admit, were above and beyond anything on the market. However, what this meant was that RIM would continue to build ‘clunky’ hardware and less than friendly software believing corporate clients would continue to flock to their products.

  • (Note: I purchased a Blackberry Storm 2 over two years ago when RIM got into the touchscreen smartphone market thinking they would compete effectively with Apple. I was dead WRONG! Not only was the hardware subpar, it couldn’t be upgraded to the newer OS6 and OS7. In fact, RIM stopped updating their OS5 over a year ago (at least I never saw a newer version) which still carried Storm related bugs. To make things worse, it wasn’t until last fall that BB released a replacement for the Storm on Verizon’s network. Believe it or not they kept selling the device at full price with a very outdated OS! In my opinion, RIM did not care about the user experience!)

In the meantime Apple (and then Google) got into the market delivering devices with extremely user-friendly features. The none-corporate users started buying these by the tons and the application eco-system started to bloom.  The underlying theme with these two was the fact that they catered to the user experience and needs while RIM di not cater to users but rather corporate IT departments. The majority of BB users had the phones ‘forced’ on them because of their jobs.

The very eco-systems that Apple and Google created have now delivered security applications that can start competing with RIM.  In fact, RIM, late last year, decided to givein and communicated its intent to provide software to integrate iPhone andAndroid users into corporate Blackberry networks. This further reduced the Blackberry’s market relevance, but it was a necessary evil knowing that if they didn’t do this, their other business line – Blackberry Enterprise Servers –would eventually succumb to the competing services from Apple and Google.

This move is just another indication that Blackberry is in ‘reactive’ mode and still failing to engage the never-ending Continuous Improvement and Innovation cycles.

My prediction with this recent move is that RIM will either a) Exit the hardware market and become strictly a service provider, or b) give up its Blackberry OS and adopt the Android or Windows Phone OS (I hardly believe Apple will ever put their OS on another device.)  Either way, for RIM to become relevant again they will need to become disruptive again, but it won’t happen in the smartphone market!  (Perhaps they should consider space exploration!)