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BlackBerry CIO on Mobile Security, BYOD and the Modern CIO Role

Al Sacco | Oct. 11, 2012
Research In Motion (RIM) CIO Robin Bienfait is not your typical CIO.

We're hearing about BYOD a lot nowadays, and at CIO.com, we're writing a lot about BYOD. RIM is in a unique situation in that it's making products for IT to help them manage and embrace the changes that come with BYOD. Mobile Fusion, BES 10 and BlackBerry Balance, for example. Does RIM support non-BlackBerry devices? Can RIM employees bring in, say, a new iPhone 5 and ask IT to support it?

We have to test all the services we offer, so there are employees [using non-BlackBerry devices]. I don't have anybody bringing personal devices to work. But we do have devices that we use to test and make sure that our capabilities do work.

So RIM employees cannot bring in their personal devices and ask RIM to support them?

Not a personal device, no.

That goes for BlackBerrys, too? Employees can't bring in personal BlackBerrys?

The only thing we've opened the door a little bit for is our PlayBook [tablet]. If an employee brings in a PlayBook, we'll enable BlackBerry Balance on that PlayBook. But that's more of a pilot for us.

"[RIM employees] don't need to bring somebody else's personal device to work. I want the full security solution. Being head of security for the business, I understand where the vulnerabilities are within the other platforms. It's just not a risk I'm willing to take yet."

Robin Bienfait

When BlackBerry 10 launches, do you expect to allow employees to use their personal BlackBerrys?

Yes. I would like to see that happen. But when you work for a company that manufactures devices, everybody just has one. A lot of us have two or three.

It seems a little odd to me RIM is enabling companies to deal with, and even embrace, BYOD, which is basically saying, 'We know you can't resist this," but then RIM itself is resisting it.

Some of our financial-industry customers have around 100,000 employees. They may have a deployment of BlackBerrys for about 30,000 or them. Those are people within their business that are either trading, handling top-secret information, and they need that security, privacy and manageability [the BlackBerry offers]. The other 70,000 employees want to also be productive, but they may not need full access to the data suite that this other crowd needs. That's where they want to open up device diversity. We want to make sure we're helping them do that.

You don't see that same scenario within RIM? A need for some people to have more security and others to have more device freedom?

Right now, I can turn on BlackBerry Balance for employees with BlackBerrys, so they can have dual personas on one device. They don't need to bring somebody else's personal device to work.

 

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