BlackBerry is viewing application development as a key opportunity for its VAR partners as it looks to move further from its reputation as a device company toward one as a software and mobile security company.
Richard McLeod, VP of enterprise software channels at BlackBerry, pointed to emphasis BlackBerry is putting on apps attached to its platform.
"If incremental apps are not attached, then there's a higher propensity to churn or not grow. The more applications that are attached, the higher propensity to grow, expand and not churn," he said. "It's the whole land and expand strategy. A SaaS-based recurring revenue stream. The beauty of our platform is it's all built upon open APIs and SDK and partners can do multiple things. And this is the continuum."
An "easy way" for solution providers to get into the app space is to leverage BlackBerry's over 100 ISV partnerships, McLeod said. These partners are building apps for BlackBerry's unified endpoint management offering, Workspaces, BlackBerry's enterprise file sync and share technology, as well as around more business-oriented applications like Salesforce and SAP and horizontals like Office 365.
The next step up is to get certified around application consulting and basic integration, McLeod said. This will allow partners to advise customers on how to leverage available APIs. He noted large banks and logistic companies have written hundreds of custom apps leveraging BlackBerry's SDK.
The third phase of the evolution, McLeod said, is becoming a developer, noting that BlackBerry's developer partners currently consist of ISVs, as well as VAR partners.
"Not all customers are big enough to create their own apps, but they have a unique personal app they want to build, so it's a great opportunity for a solution provider or a VAR to write the app for them," McLeod said. "If you write the app for them, somebody's got to maintain it, so you've got a revenue stream there. Once you get your foot in the door, you can consult for the next one and the next one…"
McLeod said that while not every BlackBerry channel partner currently has this skillset, he's working to help partners move up the curve through either buying, building or partnering. He noted he'd like "virtually all" partners to be able to have app-centered conversations.
Some BlackBerry partners have already built out these capabilities. McLeod pointed to ISEC7, one of BlackBerry's largest European resellers which also has a base in North America and globally. He said the partner has an extensive software development shop, has built apps that BlackBerry and its partners resell and also offers customized work and consulting.
Ultimately, the goal is to have channel partners move up the applications curve in some way and be able to reach new decision makers, such as line of business executives, McLeod noted.
"It allows the solution provider and us to move out of a commodity conversation, move into a consulting conversation and to speak [about] value [the channel can offer] to someone who's not focused on TCO and not focused on cost. So it changes the entire conversation. That's a journey though," he said.
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