Various companies in the mobile business have pitched me recently with the idea of separate personal and work "profiles" or "personalities" on mobile phones. The Nokia E71 has a way to toggle back and forth between these personae, and various enterprise unified communications (UC) suites are also talking up the idea.
In theory, there are some benefits:
- ability for user to personalise the phone with ringtones, wallpaper etc, but also have it "locked down" for business use
- ability for enterprise to distinguish between work- and personal-related calling, perhaps for internal accounting or benefit-taxation reasons
- supposedly helping the employee to manage their "work-life balance"
- helping the enterprise "own" their worker's business mobile number, so that if they leave employment it can be rescinded.
All these are worth goals, but largely fail to take into account typical user behaviour:
- The phone that the employee wants is probably different to the phone the employer wants to supply (5MP camera, looks cool, available in pink or green etc)
- Phones (and services) are cheap. There is an increasing likelihood that employees with company phones or email device will also have a personal mobile
- Possible legal liabilities of holding personal data on a business mobile device, especially if backed up in a corporate UC server. In the UK, for example, this is definitel a grey area when it comes to the Data Protection Act.
- Increasingly, the end user will want to do more on their mobile than just phone calls, and separating work & personal profiles makes it especially difficult to manage things like web browsing, personal email, data plan costs etc
- Privacy concerns of the individual, especially regarding deeply-personal call, SMS etc made from a "work" device. What is the legal/contractual status of using the device to call a recruitment consultant, for instance? Is it grounds for dismissal?
Overall, my view is that the dual-personality concept is vastly overstated in importance for this use case. However, the concept can be modified to help blend "work mobile" and "work fixed" numbers on the same device, which is much more useful.
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