David Werezak, RIM’s vice president of enterprise business, told internetnews.com that the Blackberry platform will evolve beyond current “classic uses,” which primarily center on e-mail. One key effort is to expand the BlackBerry’s use as an extension to server-based CRM systems, pushing filtered information out to sales and field service workers. This includes expanding and refining relationships with CRM developers, such as Siebel Systems, SAP and Salesforce.com, to keep pace with a shift in the enterprise toward a more personalized environment, as well as service-based, on-demand applications.
“To successfully implement this on a handheld, you really have to distill it down to just a few things a single person needs in the field,” said Werezak.
RIM will also enhance mobile CRM systems by integrating outside services and software with CRM information to offer a richer flow of information to specific individuals. This includes relying on a range of communications architectures from cellular and Wi-Fi to personal networking Bluetooth, to gather different streams of information. It also involves merging and reformatting information from sources, such as Google, which last month started offering Google Talk for messaging and Google Local for BlackBerry users to view maps and satellite imagery.
“We continue to build relationships and linkages with partners in distributing value, systems integration and services,” said Werezak.
Traditional e-mail messaging remains BlackBerry’s bread and butter in terms of the primary use for its handheld devices. However, increasing demands from the enterprise for more capable instant messaging and team-based collaborative environments is changing the way the company foresees the BlackBerry of the future. Rather than be a platform that is designed to handle e-mail, quick message exchanges and attachments, tomorrow’s BlackBerry will be more of an executive information and reactive decision tool.
“One of the real advantages of IM today is that it is not just one-to-one, but one-to-many,” said Werezak.
So, the goal is to build upon that real-time teamwork approach to develop IM systems that drive collaboration and focus on such things as presence, “which shows who is available, what they are working on and if they are able to talk.”
Messaging security has always been a strong suit of the Blackberry, and one of the reasons why the system is widely used in financial and government applications. The company is looking to build upon that infrastructure by working with third parties to develop solutions that transform the BlackBerry into a personal authentication device that can be used for applications other than electronic mail and messaging. Government and military contractors are, for example, already using BlackBerry systems outfitted with Bluetooth-enabled card readers as proximity authentication systems. Instead of swiping a magnetic card key or scanning a chip-implanted ID, an individual would simply use a specially equipped Blackberry to gain entrance to a restricted area or access to a secure computer terminal.
An extension of these systems might involve the use of radio frequency ID (RFID) technology or short-range Zigbee networking alternatives.