BlackBerry claims more than 100 of its UK enterprise customers are now using the BlackBerry 10 operating system, including BT, Aviva, the Co-Operative Group and Centrica.
Speaking at the BlackBerry Experience Forum in London this week, BlackBerry's managing director for UK and Ireland, Rob Orr, said that the UK was the first market to start selling the Blackberry Z10 smartphone, and the response to date has been “amazing”.
“Our first week of sales in the UK were better than any other smartphone we've previously launched in the UK. Over half of Phones 4U stores sold out of devices during the first three days,” he said.
“Today we remain the number one enterprise mobility management vendor across the region. In the UK, we're the mobile solution choice for 95 of the FTSE 100 companies, all major government departments and over half of UK police forces.”
One organisation that has been piloting BlackBerry Z10 devices is the Aneurin Bevan Health Board in Wales, which provides secondary and tertiary care for mental health patients. The Health Board employs over 13,000 staff, two thirds of whom are involved in direct patient care.
Aneurin Bevan's strategy is about moving patients back into the home and providing dedicated care in the community, according to Drew Evans, ICT Director of the Aneurin Bevan Health Board.
The board has been providing this kind of care for around five years and, as the number of community staff out in the field increased, the ability to access information while in transit became vital.
“As you digitalise information you need devices that you can access it on – not just PCs. Because people don't always want to boot up a laptop and get everything out, they want to have that information in their email on the move,” said Evans.
Aneurin Bevan therefore launched the Gwent Frailty Programme in 2011, which aimed to put BlackBerry 7 handsets and applications into the hands of nurses.
“We currently have a number of BlackBerrys within the organisation and they are critical for that activity, not just for email but people use them to get access to their files on file shares, get access to the Intranet and a number of other key applications,” said Evans.
The board hopes to move the programme to BlackBerry 10 later this year, and is already piloting the Blackberry Z10 internally.
“Really our focus in the next 12-24 months is around mobilisation, and it's very difficult to do that with the small screen size. So I think the Z10 gives a much bigger real estate, and even the newer ones that will be out later this year (Q10) have a larger screen size,” said Evans.
“We do quite a lot of video conferencing with PlayBooks and unified communications – we use a lot of WebEx – so it cuts down on travel. So it's about giving people information on the move, allowing people to connect in different ways, and allowing choice as well within the organisations.”
Evans said that Aneurin Bevan has been fairly cautious about implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy in the past, because he said “it can lead you down the wrong path and you make choices that you don't want to make”.
However, BlackBerry 10 has helped to solve the issue, because the BlackBerry Balance feature allows businesses to protect company data within a secure workspace on the device, without impacting or restricting personal use and privacy.
“We have the usual pressures from execs and other parts of the organisation who want the play aspect as well. It's been difficult up until now to provide an offering to them other than to say, have two phones,” he said.
“We see Z10s and subsequent models as being quite key in providing that balance between work and personal life.”
Evans added that Aneurin Bevan has a dedicated BlackBerry account manager that it can contact at any time, and has contributed to a number beta programmes, offering feedback on prototype products.
“We've done a lot of things in the past with BlackBerry, and I think now it's about opening that ecosystem up a little bit further and choosing what types of apps we're going to support,” he said.