So what will become of BlackBerry? Once the darling of the enterprise mobile world, the company’s buying power among its supplier base was immense allowing it to establish strong partner relationships. These partners have relied heavily on the company for orders and revenue.
However, the consumerisation of IT and the popularity of other handsets and operating systems has seen BlackBerry become the latest casualty of the handset world – forced to try to save its brand by going private.
Of course, speculation as to the company’s future has been rife and suggests that it may no longer lie in mobile hardware. As a result it could move away from its electronics supply base. Key suppliers such as Jabil Circuit have said publicly that they’ll be taking steps to move away from the former technology giant.
While suppliers will inevitably looking to protect themselves from the fall out at a difficult time like this, BlackBerry should be working hard to stabilise relationships with these key suppliers.
The future for BlackBerry remains unknown so for now so it’s more essential than ever that it keep its suppliers up-to-date with what’s going. It’s essential that BlackBerry keeps the lines of communication open with its suppliers as any uncertainty they may have about the future of the business may cause them to cut all ties with the organisation.
This is obviously the last thing BlackBerry needs at a time when it should be demonstrating its stability and the strength of its critical assets to potential investors.
Chances are BlackBerry’s supply base could change completely in the future, but for now, it needs to demonstrate that its partners are an integral to the business, after all there’s possibly shared IP to consider. Strategic suppliers are undoubtedly part of the package as far as potential investors are concerned.
At this time, BlackBerry is likely to have a number of options open to it, with potential investors interested in buying the business in its entirety, or just certain parts of it, for example, people, technology or the brand.
With an uncertain future ahead, the best move for BlackBerry needs to involve its key suppliers in discussions about the future and offer them the opportunity to meet with any potential investors to promote the strength of the supply chain. By collaborating with and communicating with partners, an organisation can keep its supply base on side. If these relationships suffer, so could any deals with potential investors.
The ideal would be for BlackBerry to try and moderate its partner reactions to its position, but this can be difficult given the often fragmented and global nature of the technology supply chain. Not unlike the automotive sector, if a manufacturer goes under, the knock on effect can be catastrophic for more than its tier one partners. It can also affect components and part suppliers too.
Unfortunately this can lead to suppliers taking action and removing key links in the supply chain and thereby potentially weakening BlackBerry’s overall ability to recover. On the reverse, a supplier’s partner network could make many positive inputs to the supply chain process and could help strengthen BlackBerry’s position and therefore increasing its chance of a positive sale.
Growth strategies are often the reason that companies work hard at developing their channel and supplier relationships, but the BlackBerry situation shows the value of keeping those relationships going during tough times too. If those relationships aren’t nurtured, those partners may well seek out other business opportunities, leaving BlackBerry in the lurch, just when they are likely to need the backing of those relationships the most.