Friday, February 25, 2011

RIM Growth Challenges

RIM is a world-class Canadian company that is now a world-class Global company. We have a hard time as Canadian's praising our children.

Once you get to be the size of RIM, you have the priviledge of being attached on all fronts. Who could not be losing ground to the likes of Apple. Their iPhone is brilliant and has set the soncumer standard for smartphone innovation. The Google's Android platform is also gaining share as its powerful operating system, and zero cost to channel partners, makes it an attractive solution to sell.

Consumer polls that are measuring product desirability consistently favor the iPhone and the Android is now squeezing Rim as well.

What should Rim do and is doing?

1.) Remember the line - Focus on your Core.

RIM has a powerful enterprise niche and must retain its high margin and loyal customers. To do this, enterprise services must always be ahead of the Apples, and Androids (whose dominance is more consumer)

2.) Expand footprint into the consumer garden but not at the expense of preserving the core.

It is easy to have Apple envy, however, my belief is it is better to have a strong foothold and preserve /fight to keep the core strong, as dilution will only erode the foundation on all sides.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment I had was RIM went to market too early on its new iPAD like product (The Torch), it did not deliver product superiority and shipping has had its challenges.

In summary, RIM may have its unique challenges, what it needs to do is not compare itself to Apple or the Android and look beyond these otherwise they are caught in a cat and mouse, function feature game, here are some ideas:

1.) Bring together the brightest engineers (top engineer from each university around the world (say 20) and offer them a $ prize to invent a new product to extent the Torch to levels unimagined (4 month co-op assignment)

See what unfolds - great PR and recruiting benefits, new ideas will emerge as with diversity comes more wisdom.

RIM is highly concentrating with R&D based in Waterloo and increasingly in the valley. It is now a global company, yet when one tests for harmony of culture and vision alignment of what the future holds, there is a worrisome level of concern by RIM employees (the enemy is now us is in RIM's tent), and their practices for engagement (doing business) is well understood to be plagued with difficulties.

All this aside, RIM will find a smart pathway forward, but it has to start with its internal engineers believing they can solve the challenge. This confidence is critical to evolution, feeling like you are in a shadow will breed mediocrity and erode confidence.

If Jim andMike spent one week each working side by side with their most brilliant engineers - some new energy would be unleashed, sometimes as executives we caught up in internal or external meetings and what is really important is ensuring our talent believe in the dream and know they are making a real difference.

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