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4 tough challenges for RIM's new team

John Cox | Jan. 24, 2012
For the first time since its founding, Research in Motion has changed its top leadership, with a new president/CEO, a new board chairwoman and a new major investor who specializes in turnarounds. But can they save RIM?

"We have to scale these processes further: [such as] resource management, rigid project management, rigid program management, and also the processes of defining a product and executing on the product," Heins said.

Over the past 10 years, RIM "innovated while we were [still] developing the product -- that needs to stop," he said. Innovation needs to be focused and limited to the early stages of planning, prototyping and design. Once a product has been thus "defined," the temptation to make changes has to be resisted, and "execution has to be precise and decisive."

The challenge, and opportunity, Heins faces is somewhat similar to that at Apple. The current CEO, Tim Cook, was personally recruited by the late Steve Jobs to bring discipline to Apple's development and management of an overseas supply chain, which has been critical to Apple's volume sale of high quality products, and to its big profit margins. As a result of Cook's success, Jobs recommended the board appoint Cook as his successor.

4. Marketing: Facing and listening to consumers

Another top priority is obtaining a chief marketing officer. "I want this ASAP," Heins said. He wants someone who can communicate to RIM's markets effectively. But that effectiveness will also depend on listening to customers in those markets, according to Heins. "I want us to have a bit more of an ear to the community, especially our consumer users' space," he said. "We need to do a better job there."


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