Meet the Channel: Richard McLeod, BlackBerry Thinkstock

Meet the Channel: Richard McLeod, BlackBerry

What is Meet the Channel? Meet the Channel profiles partners, channel chiefs and analysts and offers an opportunity to learn a little bit about the person's real thoughts on the state of the channel. Click on each photo to learn more about the channel chief you’re viewing. Want to be included in an upcoming Meet the Chiefs? Send an email to The VAR Guy Editor-in-Chief Kris Blackmon at [email protected] for more information.

This week, we caught up with Richard McLeod, global vice president of Enterprise Software Channels at BlackBerry (BBRY). McLeod has been in the enterprise IT industry for more than 30 years, and has worked for companies including AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Avaya and Cisco Systems. He joined BlackBerry in his current role in November 2015.

TVG: Let’s talk about some of the industry changes we’re beginning to see in the way that the channel does business. What are some of the trends you’ve noticed recently?

McLeod: We're seeing companies moving aggressively towards the digital workspace. We're seeing the security market transforming itself from its historic goal of protecting desktops and optimizing firewalls to shield customers from attacks through the firewall to a market reality that is now much more mobile-enabled. The majority of users are now accessing corporate applications through mobile devices.

We're seeing dramatic needs to share information, and communicate, and share application data between companies. This can be through companies sharing with contractors, companies sharing with partners or the entire supply chain ecosystem. The whole concept of building a firewall and implementing cybersecurity is a very dramatically different approach, which, quite frankly, plays to Blackberry's strength and our heritage and legacy over three decades of experience in cybersecurity in a mobile environment.

TVG: That being said, how is BlackBerry adapting to this shift? How is the company participating in this new channel, and what kind of services are you offering that reflect that change?

McLeod: We're seeing, as I'm sure you have, that the budgets are shifting from CIO and IT over to line of business decision makers. Those line of business decision makers are focused on, "How can I shorten the sale cycle? How can I improve sales productivity? How can I improve my supply chain communications? How can I shorten lead time of construction of products, of delivery? How can I ensure that we have the proper cyber security and prevent data loss of our intellectual property?"

A different set of decisions is being made, and we're giving them the platform, and the capability, and the enablement by way of our channel program to really change that conversation. In effect, we’re helping customers to create whole new budgets to tap into that line of business decision making.

It's perfect timing, we think, for Blackberry and for our partners, with the announcement of BlackBerry Secure, which is an integrated platform that embraces all operating systems and all devices. We’re looking to leverage the history and DNA that we have from a security perspective but also provide users with a unified pinpoint management system. It's a pretty exciting opportunity.

We also announced our solution provider program back in May. With this platform, we're now announcing some additional enhancements to our authorized Gold and Platinum programs. We see this as a significant opportunity for partners to not only evolve and grow with the evolving security marketplace, but to create significantly new service revenues, manage service revenues, recurring revenue streams, and to likewise drive integration with workflow applications, be they horizontal or vertical, and augment what a customer is really trying to drive from a line of business decision making.

TVG: Speaking of your DNA, it wasn't that long ago that an executive wouldn't be caught dead without a BlackBerry device. Today, BlackBerry is a company that exemplifies the channel's shift from hardware to services. Can you talk in broader terms about the shift that's happening in the market with the emergence of third platform technologies, and how partners need to evolve to adapt?

Listen to McLeod's answer below.

TVG: What are some elements of Blackberry's channel program that help VARs make the transition to solution providers?

Listen to McLeod's answer below.

TVG: What's your overall sense of what's happening in the channel right now, and what Blackberry doing to help partners adjust?

McLeod: Increasingly, we're seeing that evolution from VAR to solution provider and a change in the solution provider's revenue streams, and a change in the sources of their margin, and we're actually seeing both go up as they move into new space. I've been at this for more years than I like to count, and I find whenever the industry is going through transition, it creates amazing opportunities for those that seize them. The market is really coming to BlackBerry as the it moves again from firewall-protected era and shifts to one where we need to have the ultimate balance between ability, flexibility and security. That creates both concern and opportunities for our partners.

We're bringing out a new platform that takes our leadership to the next
level. We're
creating new programs and enablements and incentives for our partners. The feedback
we're getting from our partners is this is absolutely the right platform,
the right
program, the right direction for this state of the market. They're seeing
their revenues
go up and their margins go up and the customer [stickiness 00:27:49

We're seeing professional consulting revenues going up by three to four times. We're seeing ongoing services revenues going up four to five times. We're seeing the customers’ stickiness and value add going up immeasurably. You're moving from a world of procurement, deciding which VAR can give me the best price and the best delivery to line of business decision makers saying, "Who can provide me the best outcome, and be an ongoing business partner for me, and providing the highest return on investment towards my business goals?" 

Taking all of the capabilities, intellectual properties, and experience from Blackberry enables our partners to do more of a consulting engagement with the customer to analyze how effective they are at protecting themselves from cyberattacks. Again, elevating them to that consultant level.

TVG: What's next for BlackBerry?

McLeod: We continue to have a pretty exciting future as a software company and continuing to build on our legacy and DNA of a company that was built on security. As we continue to educate the market on the fact that that security was built on software more so than hardware, and the fact that Blackberry is any operating system on any device, and has been for years, I think the more you'll see us accelerate in the marketplace.


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