Behind BlackBerry’s local leadership makeover

Behind BlackBerry’s local leadership makeover

The move comes just over a year after BlackBerry completed its acquisition of Cylance

Jason Duerden (BlackBerry)

Jason Duerden (BlackBerry)

Credit: BlackBerry

BlackBerry has given its local leadership an overhaul of sorts, with the company bringing its Cylance artificial intelligence (AI) platform and BlackBerry unified endpoint management (UEM) offering together as BlackBerry Spark while handing its team in the region a somewhat expanded remit.

The move comes just over a year after BlackBerry completed its acquisition of cyber security solutions vendor Cylance, in the process also completing its transition from a company once known for its iconic mobile phones to a dominant cyber security solutions provider in its own right. 

“Today BlackBerry took a giant step forward toward our goal of being the world’s largest and most trusted AI-cybersecurity company,” said BlackBerry CEO John Chen in January 2019, upon completion of the acquisition. “Securing endpoints and the data that flows between them is absolutely critical in today’s hyperconnected world. 

“By adding Cylance’s technology to our arsenal of cybersecurity solutions we will help enterprises intelligently connect, protect and build secure endpoints that users can trust,” he said. 

Cylance’s machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technology was viewed as a strategic addition to BlackBerry’s end-to-end secure communications portfolio. Notably, Cylance’s embeddable AI technology was expected to accelerate the development of BlackBerry Spark, the company’s secure communications platform for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Since then, BlackBerry has been quietly integrating the Cylance business into its existing business and portfolio of cyber security solutions. 

Now, that integration has come to some kind of culmination, with Cylance's product and services offering being rolled into the BlackBerry Spark platform, which is aimed squarely at the unified endpoint security (UES) market.

In the words of the company, BlackBerry Spark delivers a “one agent, one console, one crowd, one cloud approach to enable a zero trust security environment focused on earning trust across any endpoint, including desktop, mobile, server and IoT”.

At the same time, BlackBerry’s legacy cyber security solutions offering is now attached to the company’s IoT Solutions business. 

“Recently, the company announced the availability of the BlackBerry Spark Platform for Unified Endpoint Security (UES) and Unified Endpoint Management (UEM), built to enable Zero Trust security,” BlackBerry said in a statement.

“Following our acquisition of Cylance in Feb 2019, this is an important milestone in BlackBerry’s successful pivot to become a leader in endpoint security management, encryption and embedded systems.”

As part of the company’s efforts to bring the benefits of BlackBerry Spark and BlackBerry IoT Solutions to the channel in Australia and New Zealand, it has given some of its local Cylance and BlackBerry leadership team members a makeover and, for some individuals, expanded responsibilities and remits. 

Former Cylance director of channels in Asia Pacific (APAC) Joe McPhillips is now director of channel sales for BlackBerry Spark across APAC.

Jason Duerden, meanwhile, formerly Cylance regional director for Australia and New Zealand, is now BlackBerry Spark’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand.

Additionally, former BlackBerry director for Australia, New Zealand and India David Nicol is now managing director for BlackBerry IoT Solutions in Asia Pacific and Japan.

According to May Mitchell, BlackBerry’s new global channel lead and former Cylance vice president of global channel sales and field marketing, the next step is for the company’s respective partner programs to eventually come together. 

“My first charter is to bring the best of the BlackBerry partner program along with the Cylance partner program, and to unify that,” Mitchell told ARN. “And right now, they are two concurrent partner programmes.

Regardless of how and when the partner programs come together, Mitchell is already eyeing a pipeline of fresh offerings that partners will soon be able to sink their teeth into. 

“The good news about bringing the spark division together is we've expanded coverage. We will be rolling out some pretty cool bundles you know, with this next quarter, so these things are coming frequently,” she said. 

In the local region, the changes mean that, from a team integration perspective, Nicol will now be running the BlackBerry IoT Solutions group across the APJ theatre, looking after that part of the business. In A/NZ, however, Duerden is running the Spark Group, which is where the vast majority of the respective heritage team members have ended up. 

For Duerden, who now oversees BlackBerry Spark in the local market, partners won’t really see much change in terms of the representatives they deal with for particular products and services, but the new structure does see a greater remit for some.

“There's no real major changes from that [integration] perspective,” Duerden told ARN. “Obviously, there's a broader theatre from a leadership group with people in Asia as well, and how all that comes together. But from a local A/NZ perspective, it will be largely the same and, if not exactly the same, only slightly different.

“Essentially, we've doubled the remit of the team that is providing endpoint based capability out into the A/NZ market. The heritage Cylance team was, I think about 12-15 people roughly, and the BlackBerry heritage [team] was about the same size. 

“I think, yes, it's a continuation, but certainly, we've got a lot of work to do to bring this new product out to market; there's new capabilities out for partners and customers,” he added.

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