The prolonged outage that has left many BlackBerry users without email or mobile web for several days could have a long-term impact on RIM’s reputation with business users, UK IT chiefs have warned.
RIM says it has now restored normal service to the BlackBerry network following this week’s outage, the largest the company has experienced, and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis acknowledged that RIM would be working very hard to win back the trust of BlackBerry users.
However, RIM could have a tough job ahead of it to win back the trust of business users, according to silicon.com’s CIO Jury.
When asked, ‘Do you think the BlackBerry outage will permanently damage RIM’s reputation among business customers?’ the CIO Jury voted yes by a margin of eight to four.
Richard Lovelock, head of IT at The Royal British Legion, said: “I think RIM’s serious three-day-plus outage, of what for many businesses are essential email and messaging services, is likely to remain in the IT industry’s short-term memory for a number of years, which can only put doubts in people’s minds over RIM’s long-term future to handle such traffic.”
He added: “In my opinion, this is likely to make many enterprise users consider the Apple and Android solutions, even though RIM’s enterprise architecture and security is arguably still the best on paper.”
Rene Batsford, head of ICT at food retailer EAT, said RIM needs to “quickly improve their infrastructure and proactively manage and invest in the infrastructure supporting the growth of the business”.
Batsford added: “I think another sustained outage would make CIOs and IT industry captains rethink their next move. Many businesses are in contract and it would probably prove more problematic getting out of those. For those coming to the end of their cycle, they might consider platforms such as Android, as EAT did.”
But, he added: “Ask most business users and they will tell you that as a no-frills solid mobile and messaging handset, BlackBerry is still one of the best devices out there and this is mainly down to battery life, BBM and the keyboard. Sometimes the simple approach is best!”
Not all CIOs thought the damage to RIM’s reputation was that great, pointing out that other technology providers have had outages, and often more regularly than RIM.
Others feel that although the outage is a problem, RIM’s devices still have…
…many benefits for business users.
While Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at LCH.Clearnet, predicted the outage “can only accelerate the surge away from BlackBerrys to Android or iPhone technology”, he also pointed out the limitations of rival offerings: “These other phones operate over public networks, do not have message recording/auditing as required by a number of countries and do not have the equivalent of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, so it is not the end of RIM in the corporate world… just yet!”
Madhushan Gokool, IT manager at Storm Model Management, said: “Problems do happen, but the lack of communication from RIM was more of a problem, rather than the technical outage. However, BlackBerrys are still a great email/business device, and I don’t think there will be masses of businesses who move onto alternatives as yet, due to the outage.”
Laura Dawson, head of information services at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: “While BlackBerry is still a good email provider, smartphone technologies are taking the ground from under them, as are tablets, and the executive wants to be seen with the next ‘must have’. No IT department wants the pain of supporting a variety of tools or even management of a variety of contracts.”
Dawson added: “This recent outage has put the option to switch into the minds of both executives and internal IS providers. Whether this is the final nail, I would doubt, but it has firmly put the lid on the coffin if not completely sealed it.”
With RIM rival Apple launching its latest handset – the iPhone 4S – this week, the outage has come at a difficult time for RIM which rapidly needs to regain momentum or risk being outpaced.
As Mike Tonkiss, IT director at Neopost, points out: “It could not have come at a worse time for the company trying to compete against the iPhone.”
And Stephen Potter, CIO at World-Check, warned: “I see the long, slow decline many had predicted for RIM now accelerating.”
Today’s silicon.com CIO Jury:
- Rene Batsford, head of ICT, EAT
- Laura Dawson, head of information services, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
- Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Model Management
- Neil Jones, head of information services, Newport City Homes
- Richard Lovelock, head of IT, The Royal British Legion
- Hugo Patten, CIO, DHL Supply Chain
- Stephen Potter, CIO, World-Check
- Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
- Dave Thomson, IT and communications manager, Rice & Dore Associates
- Mike Tonkiss, IT director, Neopost
- Mike Wright, head of technology, Man Group
- Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities, LCH.Clearnet
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