A split personality keeps things nicely separate

Managing your employees’ business and personal mobile identities

March 14, 2012

Managing your employees’ business and personal mobile identities

BY BENNIE LANGENHOVEN, Managing Executive, TELLUMAT COMMUNICATION SOLUTIONS*

The mobile revolution
The mobile revolution has already achieved immense things in enterprise communications. At the most basic level, it has equipped employees to work and communicate from anywhere and at any time.

To cater for this enablement of their workforce, communications technology vendors have extended their full range of communications and collaborative functionality to mobile devices.

Unresolved identity issues
But for all its benefits, the mobile revolution came with unresolved problems of its own. Driving the revolution, consumers are adopting a rising tsunami of smartphones and tablet PCs. Rather than carry two devices at the office, they have opted for one – often their own.

To this, enterprise IT departments have responded by integrating personal devices into the enterprise – embracing the development as an opportunity to leverage user devices rather than viewing it as an integration headache and a threat to security.

So far, so convenient, but how do you keep your business and personal profiles separate when personal and private activities overstep boundaries of place and time; when unknown incoming numbers may mean a personal or business call; when returning a call may wrongly be billed to your business or personal mobile account?

Realistically, it’s probably not such a great idea to merge your business and personal self completely on one device:

– Using a personal phone for work means exposing your personal identity (cell number) in a business context.
– If your business calls are forwarded to your personal phone number, and you miss the call, you’ll probably be forced to return it from your personal number.
– Rather than suffer unsolicited sales calls, most people let calls from unknown numbers go to voice mail. But since your personal number isn’t always known to colleagues, this could mean your urgent call isn’t answered.

Catering for a split personality
To solve this conundrum, some communications platform vendors have further refined the integrated mobile experience to cater for a rift in the modern mobile worker’s communications profile.

These solutions allow company employees to use one device – whether personally-owned or corporate-owned – with two user profiles (business and personal). For business use, employees are assigned their existing work number, while also retaining their personal identity (cellular number).

They can make and receive calls to and from either identity, depending on which number they’re phoned on or are phoning from. Depending on the situation, their personal or business voice mail is activated when they’re unavailable.

The best solutions of this nature extends the enterprise Unified Communications functionality to their smartphone by making use of an app, with their business number displaying as the caller ID on the recipient’s desk phone or smartphone. Behind the scenes, the app forwards the call to the company’s mobility router and places the call through the company’s phone system. Smart mobility plugins don’t care which vendor’s PBX is in use.

The enterprise mobility app further chooses the best network, whether voice over WiFi or 3G/4G, providing an uninterrupted call experience with seamless handover when necessary, while retaining the dual identity.

The power of two of you
There are many benefits for employees to be all business-in-front-and-party-at-the-back:

– The company can project the proper business or personal image.
– It lets staff establish boundaries by avoiding business calls outside business hours.
– It creates a better customer experience by making it easier to reach the right person at first time.
– It protects privacy – having one number means you can stop including mobile numbers in email signatures and business cards. This means when a staff member leaves the company, it can easily pass on the workflow of inbound calls to their number – just as they have done for years with emails. Customers won’t continue ringing the personal phones of former employees.
– Companies can save money by routing calls to and from roaming employees’ mobile phones via the corporate network (accessed locally via WiFi or 3G/4G networks). Worst case scenario, the call is charged at the lower business rates; best case, it’s a free or local in-country call.

No more trade-offs
True enterprise mobility has come of age with the advent of the dual caller profile, which resolves the complexity of carrying more than one mobile phone to cater for business and personal use.

* Tellumat is the South African distributor of ShoreTel systems, whose offerings are cloud-ready.