3. Use the many tools available for securing iOS and Android
For several years, the mantra among many in IT is that only the BlackBerry could provide sufficient security and management capability needed for sensitive information, especially in heavily regulated information-centric industries such as law, financial services, health care, and aerospace/defense.
In fall 2008, the Secret Service told then President-elect Barack Obama that he could not use his BlackBerry for presidential work. After his inauguration, they relented for personal usage with the addition of specialty encryption. Today, he is frequently seen with his iPad.
In other words, the world has changed. "When the iPhone and Android came to market, they were not as robust with security, but since then Apple, Google, and third-party partners have filled many of the gaps around security and manageability that had made RIM a differentiator. Today, there are really no industries or job functions that would have no place to go other than BlackBerry," Borg says.
If the default security in iOS or Android isn't up to your needs, plenty of third-party mobile management tools are available to secure them at the level that companies require, Borg notes. "The leaders in this sector offer comprehensive security [capabilities] that in many cases meet or even exceed what RIM was doing with BES," Borg says.
The big area that such tools for iOS and Android beat RIM center around is the very area with the most potential for employees and employers alike: applications.
IT fears over iOS and Android not being as control-oriented as BlackBerry can also be addressed. For example, although iOS is an opt-in operating system, where users have to agree to be managed, all the leading management tools simply block access from devices that don't accept the policies. They also detect and block jailbroken devices, so you can prevent users from running apps that come from outside Apple's heavily policed app store. Access to iCloud can be disabled as well, though it can cause unanticipated problems if done too cavalierly.
Android support takes more effort. The multiple versions of Android in use vary significantly in their security support, with only Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" and later comparing to the native iOS capabilities. "You need a greater level of effort and expertise to make Android enterprise-ready," Borg notes.
But all of Motorola Mobility's Android devices released since summer 2011, as well as some earlier models, provide iOS-level security capabilities out of the box. Its Droid 4 smartphone even has a physical keyboard, for those BlackBerry users who hate the notion on touch-based text entry. So do Samsung devices labeled SAFE (Samsung Approved for Enterprise), including the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S III, and Galaxy Tab 2.
The good news: You're covered if BlackBerry goes away
Given that RIM pioneered the notion of mobile devices and embodied mobile messaging for a decade, it would be sad if RIM fails to adapt to the modern world or does so too late to regain the huge numbers of lost customers.
But it would not make companies have to choose between mobility and security. They can have both today with iOS and Android, and likely this fall with Windows Phone 8. Plus, they get all the advantages of apps and Internet that the BlackBerry wasn't designed for.
Whatever happens to the BlackBerry, now's the time to plan your transition, even if just as a contingency. RIM's fortunes have become too uncertain too quickly to not do otherwise.
InfoWorld Executive Editor Galen Gruman contributed to this report.
This story, "Good-bye, BlackBerry: 3 steps to prepare for its demise," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.