Interview: David Nicol, Blackberry


Wednesday, 02 January, 2019

Interview: David Nicol, Blackberry

Which technologies or innovations do you think will be game changers or reach maturity in 2019?

Mobility and hyper-connected ‘things’ such as drones, robots, wearables and vehicles are already changing how products and services are delivered in the private and public sector. Many organisations are testing new technologies for a variety of uses, but are hesitant to fully deploy — hampered by complexity and security risks.

Ultimately, we believe a game changer in 2019 is software that offers ultra-security, letting departments fully embrace digital transformation by allowing all those connected endpoints to truly trust one another, communicate securely and maintain privacy. The key is simplicity and ease of management — meaning a single platform that can secure and manage all existing endpoints now, but will scale to embrace the new things as they enter the workplace.

Another game changer is the use of more intelligent crisis communication technologies to account for people and maintain business continuity in the case of an incident. This means the use of multi-modal, two-way communication to ensure trusted messages are sent in real time.

How are AI, IoT and cyber threats changing your industry sector, and what is your business doing to move with the changes?

As a company that has transformed through significant disruption, BlackBerry is not just moving with the changes but is several steps ahead. Let me share a couple of examples. First, we recently announced BlackBerry Spark is coming in 2019, a next-generation platform that will allow enterprises to leverage AI and manage smart ‘things’ regardless of operating system. It will also enable people to use and trust any hyper-connected end-point by making military-grade security easy and intuitive to use.

BlackBerry has also entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Cylance by February 2019. Cylance’s technology has proven effective at predicting and preventing known and unknown threats to fixed endpoints, including stopping zero day threats such as Petya, notPetya and WannaCry.

Which ICT innovations or disruptions are your customers telling you they are most worried or enthusiastic about in the year ahead?

Our customers are concerned not only about how data is securely shared between connected endpoints, but in recognising that it is a people issue. Behavioural change is becoming just as important as having the right software — and organisations are often faced with a skills gap when it comes to cybersecurity. Are staff educated to identify a threat? Are the processes in place to respond when a threat becomes real?

Departments need to get focused with available resources, or get the right help externally. As well as investing in the right tools, it is most important to build out capabilities, particularly in development operations teams, to ensure new apps and automated processes are secure by design from the beginning.

What’s on your tech wish list from industry, regulators and innovators in 2019?

When a cyber attack happens, we usually think of the digital impact. But the reality is that large-scale cyber attacks are also affecting lives. Look at how WannaCry led to UK hospitals re-scheduling urgent operations in 2017. This is changing how any organisation with a duty of care is planning for risk in an increasingly complex world. We see a lot of opportunity for the government and private sector to work together to introduce regulation that will enable more effective and cost-friendly networked critical communication networks. The end goal? A more crisis-ready and cyber-resilient Australia.

David Nicol is the Managing Director for BlackBerry in Australia and New Zealand. With over two decades in leadership roles in the IT sector, David heads a team of software and cybersecurity experts who help companies and governments mitigate security risks, protect endpoints and communicate securely and privately.

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