Research in Motion (RIM), once the pre-eminent leader in smart phone technology with their Blackberry, announced more than half a billion dollar loss at the end of June.
It made me think, how tough is it for leadership to reinvent a company lagging in the market they once owned (to improve their business growth strategy)?
A few lessons we can learn from Blackberry’s CEO.
Know the difference between wider and deeper.
If growing geographically (wider) means a diversion from your current market (deeper), the opportunity to go global may be costly.
Owning the market here in North America (RIM is a Canadian company) was awesome; however, the global opportunities that presented themselves were hard to ignore.
What happened when all attention got focused elsewhere?
We didn’t miss on innovation. I think we missed on understanding, specifically in the U.S., that this trend was shifting, and that our positioning and our value proposition in the U.S. market was not following that trend shift.
Be focused on your strategic plan.
With our eagerness to be extremely innovative, we had the tendency to put new stuff into existing project programs, and that is not a recipe to deliver on time and on quality.
Once the focus was elsewhere it was hard to jump back in. Now you are reacting to the sudden market expansion, additions of the iPhone and Android as major competitors. Reactive environments add fuel to chaos.
Having a business growth strategy around competition and market growth, even when you are on top, is a plan to win. One eye is always with the existing customers, suppliers and shareholders; while the other eye explores expansion strategies.
Learn from your mistakes.
Business has proven time and time again that your most loyal fans will forgive you and many more can be won back. However, win-back campaigns and loyalty programs cut into profits like a laser.
We’re dramatically changing this with BlackBerry 10. . . . it was a decision between: Rush it out again, and then fix the quality stuff later; or bring it out with high quality. What I commit to the public out there is that when we ship BlackBerry 10, we will do it at high quality. That was the decision I made. And we keep that program very, very focused.
I think Blackberry has another life left; after all, Apple has done the same thing and won back a whole new audience with their business growth strategy reinvention.
I bought my first Apple computer last Friday night at Best Buy, but that is another story.
My advice to Mr. Heins is to make it great. Customers love a comeback story and launching a mediocre product at Holiday time would have been a bad move that may not have been forgiven.
What do you think? Would you trade your iPhone or Android for a Blackberry 10 after reading this interview with RIM CEO? What does it take to win back a customer?