Smartphones are the fastest growing type of communication device within the business and home and as this growth continues we will see the smartphone being combined into a single device and used for both Business and Personal use.
Businesses are already seeing employees using personal smartphones to access their company email whilst on the move, security to concerns aside, most report large increases in employee productivity as a result. The flip side is that employees are also using company Smartphones to access their services such as social networking and personal email at company expense.
Many employees currently have a work Smartphone and a personal Smartphone but there are significant advantages to having a single Smartphone for both home and work.
Firstly the price of the device itself – it costs over £300 for a decent smart phone and you either pay this upfront by purchasing a phone or spread across the length of the mobile contract – either way the employer and employee pays for it – twice. Then there are the personal calls and data access by the employee at home but paid for by the Employer. Finally two sets of mobile contracts – one for home and one for business – why not combine the two and get far better value?
But if we are to end up with a single device for every employee and if that same device is used for personal use also, how does a business control the phone costs/access during the work-time and let the employee control the phone costs/access during home-time?
Currently there is not such a phone or technology available to do this automatically, but one of the possible ways to control the personality of the phone is through Presence Information. Presence is a feature of Unified Communications and is currently used in a rudimentary way to say if a person is Available, Busy, In a meeting, At Lunch, Inactive, Away or Offline.
It is true that some Unified Communication systems use the presence information to route telephone calls more effectively but Presence could be extended to include the work status of a person – ie: At Work, At Home, Working Away, On Holiday and then combined so – Available at work, In a meeting at work, Busy Working away, Available at home, Away on holiday etc.
Different smartphone profiles could then be applied depending on the presence status so if the person is at work and available the calls would be routed through the company bill but if the person was at home or on holiday the employee picks up the bill. Profiles could even be combined for instance: Available at work would activate At Home Busy to ensure employees were not taking personal calls during work time whereas Available at Lunch could allow both personal and business calls during this time – all controlled by the employees calendar.
Moving on from the work / home split, the Presence information on the Smartphone could also be used within work-time to control the way the phone makes and receives calls – acting as a mobile when out of the office and automatically switching to act as a mobile desk phone whilst in the office. Once in desk phone mode, calls make would route over the companies PBX / iPBX system and data access would route through the company’s internet connection – together with all the enforced access controls and IT Policies.
This is not entirely new with BT Fusion and even FMC devices providing this functionality in part, however the cost and complexity of installing these systems has meant that most small and medium sized business simply have not deployed this type of technology. In contrast, a Wi-Fi internet connection and smart phones are now common place within a small and medium sized business, they just need the clever software bit in the middle.