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Why we chose to invest in NantHealth

The "Internet of Things," a vague catchall phrase that gets people excited even if they are not quite sure what it means, is no longer a theoretical concept, but a new reality that is revolutionizing the way we live and work. Imagine the possibilities: Your doctor can access real-time information about your health direct from monitoring equipment, share it quickly with other medical professionals, and tap into the diagnostic and treatment resources of the best institutions in the world.

A core strategy of the ongoing turnaround at BlackBerry taps into the interconnected systems that make up the Internet of Things. By doing so, we will be able to deploy our unique assets and capabilities to help industries operate efficiently, reliably and, most importantly, securely.

John Chen
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
John Chen

Today, we announced an investment in and plan to collaborate with NantHealth to transform the delivery model of health-care to patients. The brainchild of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, NantHealth has developed a cutting-edge, cloud-based clinical operating system that is agnostic to any device or electronic health record.

Read MoreBlackBerry takes stake in NantHealth

The NantHealth platform is installed at approximately 250 hospitals and connects more than 16,000 medical devices collecting more than 3 billion vital signs annually. Think about the possibilities when an enormous amount of data and computing power is accessible to doctors in the palm of their hands.

This is the future of health care, a field where the ability to share reliable information and make sense of conflicting signals can mean the difference between life and death. As the health-care industry changes, a secure and robust technology infrastructure becomes all the more vital — not only to keep doctors and nurses current on patient care, but also to ensure compliance with privacy laws and streamline sometimes cumbersome and confusing billing procedures. BlackBerry's active role helping health-care professionals maximize the potential of mobility highlights our commitment to adapting technology to rapidly changing needs and opportunities across a range of fields.

For example, if the Internet of Things can connect the machines that take your blood pressure or electrocardiograph to your doctor's smartphone, the need for absolute security and reliability is more important than ever. Those are unmatched BlackBerry strengths, and as we work to turn around the company, opportunities such as this that will be vital to our future.

Since I took over as CEO last year, I've been asked more times than I can count whether BlackBerry has a role in the rapidly changing and intensely competitive mobile market — a market BlackBerry was instrumental in creating. As our collaboration with NantHealth illustrates, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, BlackBerry's role is more necessary than ever as our core strengths of reliability and security will be essential to the next era of computing — an era in which mobility is fully integrated with the underlying systems that keep the modern world operating.

Read MoreBlackBerry CEO: Reports of our phones' death are greatly exaggerated

Granted, BlackBerry will cater more to enterprises, regulated industries such as finance, law enforcement, government and health care. And our offerings will expand beyond best-in-class mobile-device management and handsets to include the integration of those elements into the embedded systems that make up the Internet of Things. This helps us place even greater value on our smartphones because they integrate seamlessly with the embedded systems that collectively make up the Internet of Things.

In fact, BlackBerry already powers many of those embedded systems with our QNX operating system. Although not widely known, QNX is at the ultra-secure core of our smartphones, but it also powers a range of essential industrial, automotive, military and medical systems for which security and reliability are absolutely essential. They include applications such as wearable GPS and communication systems for ground troops, unmanned aircraft control systems, steam turbine controls, nuclear power monitoring, advanced driver assistance in cars and a range of medical diagnostic and monitoring equipment.

So when BlackBerry talks about focusing on the emerging needs of the enterprise, this is what we're talking about. Those needs are changing, just as they did in previous eras of technological change — such as the advent of desktop computing and the rise of mobile.

Read MoreBlackBerry CEO: Here's our new strategy

The work we're engaging in with NantHealth illustrates that the future of health care lies in the ability to share information securely and quickly, whether device-to-device or doctor-to-doctor. Although the collaboration is just beginning, BlackBerry and NantHealth see tremendous opportunity because:

  • BlackBerry, through our QNX technology, is already trusted to run the machines that take your blood pressure, monitor anesthesia and conduct laser eye surgery. QNX enables the mission-critical medical diagnostic and monitoring devices in hospitals and homecare environments through its real-time embedded operating system;
  • Super-fast, super-secure messaging through our upcoming BBM Protected secure communication platform will connect health-care providers, field-service workers, emergency personnel, patients and family members to keep life-and-death information flowing to the people who need it;
  • NantHealth's proprietary Clinical Operating System platform integrates the doctor's office or hospital with the medical network and the payment system, enabling 21st century coordinated care at a lower cost;
  • NantHealth and BlackBerry can combine secure cloud-based and supercomputing services to provide data integration, decision support and analytics — allowing care providers to crunch huge amounts of data to aid in accurate diagnoses; and
  • BlackBerry devices are the global standard for secure communication and collaboration, keeping sensitive medical information available only to authorized users.

Clearly, different industries will have different needs as the Internet of Things expands, but the need they share is the ability to communicate and collaborate securely and reliably — whether that's between human users or the machines and systems running in the background. This is what BlackBerry does best and our technology is already trusted where it matters most — on battlefields, behind the wheel of a car, in nuclear plants, and at the doctor's office.

John Chen is chief executive officer of BlackBerry and executive chair of the company's board of directors. Follow BlackBerry on Twitter at @BlackBerry4Biz.

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