Interview: BlackBerry, UK IT Industry Awards finalist

Highlighting public sector IT

clock • 4 min read
Keiron Holyome – Vice President, UKI, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa –BlackBerry
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Keiron Holyome – Vice President, UKI, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa –BlackBerry

"We're really proud of our partnership with Greater Manchester Police, which is a shining example of putting BlackBerry AtHoc to work in a fast-paced, critical incident environment."

This week marks the return of the UK IT Industry Awards: the largest and most well-known event in the technology industry calendar. Owned and operated by Computing and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the awards enjoy a level of professionalism and industry knowledge not seen at other shows.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Wednesday. One of the finalists in the running is BlackBerry, which has reached the shortlist for two categories: Best Public Sector IT Project of the Year and Best Security, Defence or Law Enforcement IT Project of the Year.

We talked to Keiron Holyome - Vice President, UKI, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at BlackBerry - to find out how their company has used IT for success.

Keiron joined BlackBerry in January 2021, bringing over 20 years of experience in sales leadership roles at multinational technology organisations including McAfee, Computacenter, Gartner, Lenovo and Dell. Most recently he has held senior leadership positions in cybersecurity companies and is focused on helping organisations understand and prevent cyberattacks.

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers.

Keiron Holyome: BlackBerry keeps governments and enterprises of all sizes connected and secure across devices, networks, embedded systems, and mission critical communications. Trusted by over 2,000 organisations globally, BlackBerry's AtHoc critical event management solution combines a secure emergency notification system with incident response tools and capabilities. It enables response teams to be deployed quickly and equipped with the information needed to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from critical events faster.

What makes you different from other technology companies?

In times of crisis, mobility and secure communications are essential. But different organisations and individuals can't all be equipped with the same devices and applications. BlackBerry AtHoc stands apart from other solutions by enabling first responders to notify, cascade vital information and log acknowledgements from all key parties within and external to their organisation irrespective of the recipient's preferred platform and software, and whether they are a BlackBerry AtHoc customer. At the click of a button, a detailed alert is sent to everyone that needs to know - quickly, securely, and concurrently - to any nominated recipient, in their preferred format and on devices already in day-to-day use.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

We're really proud of our partnership with Greater Manchester Police, which is a shining example of putting BlackBerry AtHoc to work in a fast-paced, critical incident environment. Originally installed for internal communications, resourcing and staff welfare through the pandemic, GMP have pivoted to BlackBerry AtHoc's core use in critical event management over the last year. The solution is now used to connect a 'shield of communication' that spans the full range of blue light services, public and private sector organisations that may be called on to respond in any kind of emergency incident across Greater Manchester.

Progress from a manual alert telephone procedure to a digitally driven, simultaneous alert system has enabled GMP to achieve an 85% reduction in the time taken for the Force to alert all relevant agencies while also increasing the accuracy of initial information and subsequent updates. While the process of informing partner agencies of an incident would traditionally have occupied multiple contact centre agents and taken over an hour to complete the initial task, with BlackBerry AtHoc, a single operator is able to notify all key responders in less than 10 minutes. Time can be the difference between life and death in emergency response…but time is also money, and AtHoc is enabling GMP to redeploy call centre operator resources away from time-consuming tasks to better serving the community.

What are you working on this year?

One enhancement we are excited to be working on brings together two parts of our business, cybersecurity and critical event management. We will be offering integration of BlackBerry AtHoc with our cybersecurity managed extended detection and response (XDR) product, CylanceGUARD, to provide a system for fast, secure alerts on cybersecurity incidents, such as a cyberattack. When there is a cyber event, CylanceGUARD users would normally be notified 'manually' by BlackBerry's security analyst team. With the integration of BlackBerry AtHoc with CylanceGUARD, all affected customers and other pre-identified individuals will be notified concurrently with timely updates via secure communications, without the need for additional steps. This new sync feature will dramatically speed the notification and decision-making process in the event of cyberattack, enabling companies to isolate and treat affected systems more quickly to reduce potential financial and reputational impact.

Why are events like the UK IT Industry Awards important to the IT industry?

Events like the UK IT Industry Awards shine a spotlight on innovation and acknowledge where technology has made a real life difference to businesses and communities.

We're delighted to be part of that recognition, highlighting our ongoing collaboration with GMP and contribution to improving critical incident response for communities across Greater Manchester.

The UK IT Industry Awards will take place on 9th November in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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