BlackBerry steals SAP exec to lead enterprise unit

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BlackBerry steals SAP exec to lead enterprise unit
John Sims

Former workmate of new CEO.

BlackBerry has appointed former SAP executive John Sims as head of its global enterprise services business.

Sims will join the company in January, leaving a role as SAP's president of mobile services business.

BlackBerry's CEO John Chen said Sims' extensive experience in transforming businesses will be a tremendous asset to BlackBerry as the company seeks to revive its faded fortunes.

BlackBerry pioneered the concept of on-the-go email, and for years its pagers and phones were must-have devices for political and business leaders. But it has bled market share to Apple's iPhone and a slew of phones powered by Google's Android software in recent years.

The company's new line of smartphones that run on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system have failed to regain market share, prompting the company to consider a possible sale earlier this year. Last month, it shelved the sales process and opted to refinance by issuing US$1 billion in debt to a group of long-term investors including its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings.

At the time, the company announced that John Chen, credited with turning around Sybase in the late 1990s, was taking over as its chief executive, replacing Thorsten Heins.

New vision

Chen, who took the reins in November, is keen to rebuild the company as a niche player focused on the enterprise market. These security-focused customers were the ones that helped make BlackBerry devices ubiquitous back in the day.

The company is pinning its hopes on BB10 helping to make its services indispensable to clients once again.

It hopes that the offering will allow it to sell high-margin services to its large clients even if many, or all, of their employees are using devices made by BlackBerry's competitors.

Chen, who was instrumental in the sale of Sybase to SAP in 2010, worked together with Sims at the German software company. Chen, who returned Sybase to profitability in the early 2000s, had stayed on until 2012 following Sybase's acquisition by SAP.

Chen is expected to provide greater detail on his turnaround plans for BlackBerry on Friday, when the company announces its quarterly results. 

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