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RIM Attracts SMBs with BlackBerry Management Center

RIM is looking to gain some ground with small and medium businesses

Small businesses need simple, cost effective tools to help manage mobile devices, and RIM needs to expand beyond its traditional enterprise customer base. RIM is hoping to address both of those issues at once by appealing to small business customers with BlackBerry Management Center.

The BlackBerry Management Center is a free online service for small businesses that enables central management of both company-owned and employee-owned BlackBerry smartphones. The service is designed for organizations with up to 100 BlackBerry devices that rely on ISP or Web-based email tools like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo!.

Although small and medium businesses often have no dedicated IT department, and smaller budgets than their larger business cousins, they still face the same threats, and must comply with the same laws and industry regulations. With the BlackBerry Management Center, SMBs can protect data and minimize the risk from lost or stolen smartphones.

The BlackBerry Management Center enables an organization to wirelessly and automatically back up data from BlackBerry smartphones on a scheduled daily, weekly, or monthly basis. If a BlackBerry smartphone is lost or stolen, BlackBerry Management Center can remotely lock the smartphone, or wipe the contents of the smartphone--including any data on the removable SD memory card.

Small businesses may be able to locate lost or stolen BlackBerries by remotely initiating a very loud ring, and displaying a message on the Home screen. In the event that the device is simply gone, though, the BlackBerry Management Center can also be used to restore the settings and content on a replacement device.

"We are pleased to introduce RIM's latest cloud service designed specifically for small businesses," said Alan Panezic, Vice President, Enterprise Product Management at Research In Motion. "BlackBerry Management Center is a free service and an effective way to manage and support employees' BlackBerry smartphones in the cloud."

The problem for RIM is that small businesses are less likely to rely solely on BlackBerry smartphones. While larger companies are dealing with the consumerization of IT, small businesses pioneered the concept of "bring your own gadgets", and the faces the exact opposite challenge--trying to put some sort of IT framework around a hodge podge collection of consumer devices.

Small businesses that do use BlackBerry smartphones in some capacity should definitely take a look at the BlackBerry Management Center, though. It may not completely streamline management of mobile devices, but it is a great tool for at least managing the BlackBerries, and the price is right.

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