This article is brought to you by CIO in association with smartnumbers

Whether it’s BYOD, COPE or another variant of the same theme, the issue of staff choosing and using their own technology for business is without doubt a CIO level issue.

According to Ovum, staff in 78% of UK enterprises now routinely use their own technology for work, while 80 of the UK’s leading 100 UK CIO’s are embracing BYOD and seeing tangible benefits ranging from cost reductions, enhanced business agility, increased staff satisfaction and more.

Demand for BYOD is only going to increase. The imminent launch of the Apple Watch and other wearable technology is certain to increase the number of requests from staff to open up the corporate email, calendar and directory services so that meeting reminders, notifications and even simple messages can be managed from their wrist.  But why is it that early BYOD initiatives haven’t driven many of the cost savings or other benefits that were promised from the outset?

Starting on the right path

Until now, the focus of early BYOD initiatives has been the data aspect of BYOD – how to enable staff to connect their personal laptops or tablets to the corporate network.  By necessity, this focus brings with it the requirements to deploy MDM / EMM technology to secure and protect the corporate network while permitting staff to connect using their own devices. 

The rollout of MDM/EMM, and the support for the additional security layers that this entails adds complexity and cost to the BYOD initiative that quickly eats up any savings that might be realised by staff bringing in their own laptops or tablets. 

That is why many business cases for BYOD that started with laptop and tablets have yet to show a clear ROI. Instead the focus has had to be on the softer, more intangible benefits of increased productivity, staff satisfaction and organisational agility.  While these benefits can be very real, they are hard to quantify for CIO’s and therefore the business cases supporting these can be challenged.

However, evidence is growing that the single best place to start for any corporate BYOD initiative, and the one with the greatest business impact, is not with a focus on personal laptops and tablets, but instead with the humble smartphone. There are many reasons why this is the case.

Leading BYOD with the smartphone

Firstly, if an organisation can avoid the need to provide business mobile phones to staff then, unlike many BYOD initiatives, there is a clear and unequivocal cost saving. After all, avoiding the cost of providing a tablet presents a modest one-time capital saving for the business, whilst the average cost of an enterprise mobile phone is £35 - £45 per month, with some staff spending considerably more. 

As such, the corporate mobile becomes an open chequebook and it’s not usually clear just how much has been spent until the monthly bill arrives. Add to this the upgrade, replacement and repair costs and the corporate mobile estate can eat a significant chunk of a CIO’s budget. So, if this cost can be avoided, or reduced by BYOD, then it can become the foundation of a solid business case.

Secondly, starting the BYOD journey with the mobile phone can also be the simplest place to start, since in many cases there is no need to connect the mobile phone to the corporate data network, and therefore the cost and complexity of MDM/EMM can be avoided.

The third reason to start with the corporate mobile phone is that it stands the best chance of adoption by staff themselves. The smartphone is the one item of technology that individuals feel most strongly about.  One only needs to look at the after-market of mobile phone cases, accessories, ring-tones and screen savers to realise how deeply many people feel about their phone. 

While the smartphone may be viewed on the Executive floor as an important communications tool, for staff themselves the smartphone has become a part of their personal brand. Therefore, by enabling their personal smartphone for business use, and avoiding the need for staff to carry a separate phone for business, this approach stands the best chance of adoption.

BYOD or COPE. Two requirements, one solution

The challenge is therefore how to enable a single smartphone for both business and personal use by effectively providing a separate mobile number for each, managed on the same device.

In this context, it doesn’t matter whether the organisation is adopting a strategy of BYOD, asking staff to provide the phone, or a strategy of COPE, whereby staff can choose their mobile phone paid for by the company. The requirement to support both a business and personal mobile identity on one phone is the same for both strategies, irrespective of who actually owns the handset.

But while the need is for two numbers on one phone, why has this not been a reality until today?

Is VoIP the answer, or is it another four-letter word?

Earlier attempts at providing a ‘dual-persona’ mobile capability have been based on VoIP services - adding a second ‘VoIP number’ onto the smartphone which can be used wherever there is a good Wi-Fi or IP connection. 

However, this approach is quickly discarded as being not fit for purpose as the primary number to be used for business since VoIP services such as Microsoft Lync, Skype, Jabber and others suffer a number of common shortcomings.

Firstly, they require a strong broadband or Wi-Fi connection that cannot be guaranteed even within an office, let alone when the user is out of the office or travelling.

Secondly, they require a client to be loaded and running on the user’s smartphone which is not always going to be the case. One simply needs to reboot the smartphone, run out of battery or upgrade the operating system only to have the VoIP client wiped from memory, and with it the ability to receive calls.

Furthermore, the GSM signal on the smartphone always takes priority over the data connection, so if the user is in conversation on a VoIP client and a GSM mobile call comes in then this will automatically drop the VoIP call without notice.

There are many other reasons besides, including the fact that most VoIP clients don’t support SMS, they drain batteries and take up large amounts of space, so as a solution for a second mobile number on one handset they fall well short of business requirements.

GSM = Business Class

In fact, the only credible solution for business mobile communications both today and in the foreseeable future has to be based on GSM. GSM provides the broad, blanket coverage required for business, with cell-handover, roaming and other essential services for the mobile user built it.  Even in places with no data coverage, there will usually be the ability to establish a GSM connection.

The problem is that, until today, there could only be one single GSM mobile number associated with a mobile handset and as a result organisations have had to give out a separate business mobile even though most staff have a perfectly good mobile phone of their own.

Two GSM Numbers, One Mobile

That’s where smartnumbers mobile comes in. smartnumbers mobile is the first ‘dual persona’ service in the UK that enables two full GSM mobile numbers to sit side-by-side on the same handset. The service works with all UK mobile networks and carriers, allowing individuals or organisations to select their mobile network operator of choice, and then overlaying this with a second mobile number, a smartnumber, for business use.

In this way, the native mobile number associated with the SIM can be used for personal calls, and will be billed automatically to the individual. The second mobile number, the smartnumber, can be used for business calls, with all call charges automatically billed to the organisation.  Both are full UK mobile numbers, in-bundle and in-tariff with all UK mobile operators, and with full support for SMS.  The experience for the subscriber and caller alike is identical to that when using a separate dedicated handset for business and personal use.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter who provides the handset and the SIM, whether it is a staff owned mobile phone as part of a BYOD programme, or a company provided phone as part of a COPE strategy. The ability to have two separate GSM mobile numbers on one handset is a game-changer for the organisation and staff alike.

Benefits to the organisation

There are many benefits that the dual-persona mobile phone solution presents to organisation.

First and foremost are cost reductions, since there are often considerable savings to be had by removing the need to provide staff with a dedicated business phone and instead having them use their own. 

The second benefit is that separate billing for personal and business calls is built-in, meaning that expense management is reduced and exposure to the tax implications of the business subsidising personal mobile phone calls are eliminated.

A further benefit of this approach is number retention, so as staff leave, the organisation retains the mobile number which they can simply reallocate to the next person in that post.  Staff no longer have to give out their personal mobile number, so the risk of customers continuing to call them when they have left the organisation or joined a competitor no longer exists.  With smartnumbers mobile, the business mobile number stays with the organisation.

Benefits to staff too?

For any IT initiative to be successful it has to be embraced by staff. Organisations that try to force change to benefit the organisation but which don’t benefit staff run the risk of the initiative not being embraced or adopted.

With smartnumbers mobile, there are many benefits to staff as well as to the organisation.

Firstly, and most visibly, with smartnumbers mobile, staff no longer need to carry two phones. By avoiding the need to carry both a personal and a business mobile phone life is made simpler and less cumbersome.  The issues of carrying two devices, charging them, managing messages on each and maintaining separate directories disappear.  With smartnumbers mobile, staff need carry only one phone.

Secondly, with smartnumbers mobile the privacy of staff is assured. While the organisation can have visibility of business calls, all personal calls remain private. Furthermore, the private time of staff can be protected if calls to the business mobile number are set to only ring during business hours, while calls to the personal number can ring at any time.

And while the issue of split billing is a benefit to the organisation, it is also a staff benefit too, negating the need for staff to trawl through their mobile expense call loggers and identify which calls were business and which were personal.

Mobile call recording built in

But the benefits don’t end there.

smartnumbers mobile supports full mobile call recording of all incoming and outgoing calls and SMS messages to the business mobile number, whilst protecting the privacy of staff on their personal mobile number. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the business calls are being recorded for compliance, best practice or dispute-resolution, smartnumbers mobile ensures that while business calls are recorded, personal calls remain private.

Time for Change

Sometimes the simplest ideas in business are the most effective.  Enabling two mobile numbers on one phone is a case in point.  Eliminating the need for organisations to provide business mobiles, and thus increasing productivity and reducing management costs are clearly beneficial for any organisation.

Combined with the ease of implementation and simplicity of use, adopting smartnumbers mobile is an easy decision for businesses, whether they are embracing BYOD, COPE or just looking to provide the best business tools for their employees.