by Joe Cleveland

What It’s Like To…Be An Early Adopter

Dec 15, 20042 mins
IT Leadership

The RIM BlackBerry may be everywhere now, but in June 2001 it was still a novelty. At the time, RIM hadn’t worked out all the security routines necessary for scaling the BlackBerry to an enterprise such as Lockheed Martin, but we’d been looking for a means to help our senior executives utilize technology in a meaningful way. A lot of them were using e-mail successfully, but they had jobs that took them out on the road-with customers, on airplanes-and away from their PCs.

We were torn. My information security team had always tried to make sure that if we handed something to an executive, it would be bulletproof. But back then, the BlackBerry wasn’t, and using it would practically run counter to our security policy. Furthermore, RIM didn’t have a customer support structure sized for our needs; we would have to build one. Finally, the technology’s reviews in the press were mixed.

In short, there was a whole lot of cause for concern.

The executives were clamoring for them, however, so we went ahead. And it worked. We actually had one say, “This is the best technology that I’ve seen, so I’ll tolerate the problems until you get them solved.” Coming from one of our demanding execs, that was a shocking comment.

Do I have one? Yes. My CEO at the time was one of my best troubleshooters. He knew to the minute when service was out and when it resumed.

I had to get one in self-defense.

-As told to Christopher Lindquist