The LAB: Innovating the Blackberry with S.I.T. (November 2010)

by | Nov 8, 2010 | Consultants, Innovation Method, Innovation Sighting, Technology, The Wheel | 0 comments

Blackberry is taking a shellacking from iPhone and Android. It’s market share has declined 4% in four months. Why? The company drifted from a strategy built around its core competency and is frantically chasing its app-crazed competitors. Though Blackberry defined the smart phone category, it will lose its lead unless it changes.

Blackberry needs innovation. This month’s LAB outlines an approach for using the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to Blackberry. The focus is how to disrupt iPhone and Droid and re-assert dominance in the smart phone category.

The first step is to pick the core benefit that Blackberry can lead with. Using the Big Picture marketing framework, we need to identify a “dynamic variable” that is tied directly to RIM’s core competency – secure communications. Blackberry uses powerful codes to encrypt messages as they travel between a BlackBerry server and the BlackBerry device. All BlackBerry traffic runs through RIM data centers and servers which encrypt and unscramble messages. The iPhone and Droid communicate directly with ordinary email servers – unsecured.

My recommendation is to compete on privacy (NOT security which is more of the “how,” not the “why”). Blackberry cannot compete with iPhone and Droid on functionality (apps) and design. Instead, it needs to raise the Importance and Perception of privacy in the minds of the market. Privacy is highly desired by people and organizations, and Blackberry is the only technology that can do many functions securely. The trick is to extend the idea of privacy management beyond just emailing. Blackberry wants to convince the market that privacy is more important than apps and desgin.

Here is how I would apply an innovation method to this problem. First, I would frame the problem as: “How do we give our customers more privacy?” Notice the problem statement is devoid of technology, process, product, or anything that implies the “how.” Next, I would apply Task Unification, one of the five templates of S.I.T., to each of the following scenarios:

  1. Bb Resources of Blackberry: To use this scenario, we make a list of the major components of the Blackberry system including the handheld device and the other components, internal and external to RIM. It would include: keyboard, display, case, phone, email, wireless network, phone network, Blackberry Enterprise Servers, firewall, the Internet, phone networks, and Exchange servers. One by one, we take each component and assign it the additional job “giving our customers more privacy.” Some components already have a role, so the trick in to envision new ways that the component can deliver the value proposition.
  2. Applications of Blackberry: With this approach, we create a list of all key functions and applications now on the unit. It would include the standard things like email and phone. We add to the list common smart phone applications like Maps, GPS, SMS Texting, Weather, Contacts, Calendar, Photos, and more. One by one, we contemplate ways to innovate with Blackberry delivering a secure version of the app. RIM has done this already with its version of SMS. It needs to go further to things like Maps (“Blackberry protects your privacy about your current location”). The point is to show the market that for every popular app on the iPhone and Droid, the Blackberry has a secure, private version of it.
  3. Day-In-The-Life: To use this scenario, we list out in detail the aspects of our everyday routine. It would include important as well as seeming trivial items. The list might include the following: wake-up, shower, dress, take medication, eat, drive to work, check mail, have meetings, call clients, go shopping, drive home, watch TV, eat dinner, go to bed. One by one, we take each Bb Lock activity in the day and make the statement: “Blackberry gives me privacy about (fill in the blank).” For example, Blackberry keeps it private where you shop or what route you drive to work in the morning. With this “virtual product,” we identify potential benefits and potential ways to deliver the benefit.
  4. Privacy-From-Whom: In this version, we create a list of people and organizations you want to keep out of your affairs. The list could include: family members, neighbors, co-workers, strangers, government, banks, employers, stores, churches, etc. Once again, we take each component and create the virtual product by stating, “Blackberry will protect my privacy from (fill in the blank).” For example, Blackberry routes all book purchases through its private network. We test the value of this new service, then direct the technology teams to create it.
  5. Privacy-About-What: The final version is to delineate the types of information to be protected. List the major types of personal information: financial, political, religious, demographic, employment, educational, relationship, etc. One by one, create the hypothetical scenario: “Blackberry protects all my (fill in the blank) interests.” We test the value if the hypothetical service to understand its market benefit. If worthy, we begin seeking technological solutions.

RIM stands for “Research in Motion,” a clear indication of its drive with technology. Now it needs to evolve so the commercial agenda leads technology development.