“Being a Trailblazer is like being on a quest, you never stop learning and embracing new challenges.”

Jason Whissell, Director of Business Systems at BlackBerry

Jason Whissell is a people person. When he isn’t coaching his son’s hockey team or inspiring the local lacrosse minors, he’s bringing people and processes together to make BlackBerry a force to be reckoned with. He talked to us about his role as Director of Business Systems and his passion for lifelong learning.

Tell us how BlackBerry has transformed to a security software and services company.

The world is getting smarter. From self-driving cars and fitness apps to smart fridges and virtual assistants, the consumer expects their data to be safe in today’s digital world. While half of companies recognize the link between a security breach and the loss of customer trust, many still aren’t prepared for the volume or variety of attacks now being directed at their data and devices. BlackBerry wants to help organizations take advantage of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, so we’ve put security in the spotlight. We’ve created a single platform that secures, manages, and optimizes intelligent devices to help our customers stay one step ahead of the next cyber threat.

How did you leverage technology to support this transformation?

To strengthen our security and software capabilities, we’ve developed some great new products and made some acquisitions. Onboarding these new companies resulted in a fragmented IT landscape with duplicate and disparate systems – at one point we even had five instances of Salesforce! To ensure we could bring our new products and services to as many customers as possible, we needed to manage the entire journey on one platform, from pre-sales to post-sales support.

Why did you choose to consolidate on Salesforce?

We needed to unite people and processes – so we set up a project, aptly named Unite, to do just that. Salesforce was the obvious choice for a number of reasons: it’s a robust platform that can easily integrate with other systems, and it gives you the flexibility to tailor the solution to meet specific business needs. It’s so feature-rich that we didn’t need to do much customization, and the three annual releases mean that there’s always something new to leverage.

You implemented Project Unite in-house, how did it go and what did you learn?

We used Salesforce Accelerators to bring us up to speed on the platform’s capabilities and to help the technical team learn development and admin best practices. The Salesforce team showed us what was possible and connected us to the Product Managers to talk us through what we were trying to achieve. We also asked Salesforce Professional Services to help us define new processes to bring together multiple business units.

When we hit a challenge around data cleansing and migration, we ended up developing our own internal process and built a custom solution to migrate to our new environment. It was great to have the Salesforce experts there when we needed them, but we were able to find our own way too using internal resources and knowledge.

How did you upskill your team?

I love learning, I’m always looking out for tips on how to be a better leader. Trailhead is a brilliant resource, not just to learn about Salesforce, but also general business and technical best practices. The team and I use it all the time. Now, if someone would just make a trail to help me coach my son’s hockey team, that would be perfect!

What advice do you have for new Trailblazers?

Before you start, make sure your business objectives and processes are clearly defined. It will save a lot of time if you tackle this before even starting the solution evaluation stage. Being a Trailblazer means always learning from your experiences and challenging yourself, but if you get stuck the Salesforce community is there to help you on your way.