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Left to their own devices

Pre-meeting banter often drifts to the shiny new smart devices emerging from handbags and brief cases. Are you an Apple, or Android fan?

But this was not always the case. Five years ago, any businessperson worth their salt wouldn’t be seen without a Blackberry. Having one was a statement of professionalism and connectivity. So what happened and why has this changed so quickly?

In its heyday, Blackberry’s reputation for dependability and security, along with its signature QWERTY keyboard, made it hugely attractive to B2B audiences. Celebrity business endorsements also served to compound the perception of Blackberry as the executive status device of choice. Barack Obama was famously seen using a Blackberry on his 2008 campaign trail.

In the past few years however, new market entrants have challenged that previously clear choice for business. Apple, in particular, has stolen a march on Blackberry by offering both deep functionality and desirability, with the growing business appetite for apps putting it firmly on corporate customers’ must have list.

The traditional way of keeping businesses on the hook – offering security, dependability and impressive technical specifications, is simply no longer a selling point. Consumer tech has caught up to and surpassed this standard – while simultaneously introducing a new trend for the invisibility of technical detail. You don’t need to know how it works, you just need to know that it does.

Faced with the option of two functionally similar devices, business leaders, as consumers, will naturally choose the sexier option. Blackberry is not the only tech brand facing this huge PR and marketing challenge: Dell and Microsoft are also increasingly coming under pressure from the consumerisation of IT.

And we should have no illusions, the long march of consumerisation will leave no brand unturned. The challenge to all B2B brands now is to wake up to the realisation that business leaders are, and always have been, consumers too.