The Need for Corporate and Personal Liable Devices
An important differentiation in mobile devices has been pushed by the telecom expense management industry. It is the distinction between corporate liable and personal liable mobile devices. Corporate liable devices are those financed and supported by the corporation, by the employer. Personal liable devices are those mobile devices under contract by the employee. These distinctions are necessary in some industries because of the requirement for call recording (in the UK even mobile voice calls are to be recorded for regulatory purposes in the financial services industry), call detail record keeping, privacy and account records security and in others as a best practice just to make sure the employee is not making personal calls on the business mobile or on company time.
In Europe, where there are more mobile phones than people, that has been resolved in the past by users carrying two mobile phones – one for work, one for play. Other implementations have been dual-SIM mobile phones (almost as awkward as carrying two mobile phones) or call-by-call user accounting – annoyingly burdensome.
None of these are particular effective at separating out the personal and corporate liabilities. This challenge is likely to only get worse and more complicated as more and more consumers exploit the consumer models of smartphones and as mobile operators rollout very potent smartphones with very attractive data plans at better price-performance levels than the laggard corporate standard. Mobile operators and the device manufacturers continue to work very hard to bring innovative features and apps to users. Apple has shown the mobile industry how to harness an army of third party developers jazzed about the prospect of earning $0.75 for each of millions of mobile phones. In any event, separating out the corporate liable from the personal liable communications is going to get more difficult and the simpler solutions – multiple phones, post-bill analysis – are just not going to cut it for users or their managers.
Virtual Personal and Corporate Liable Devices
Mobiso is an app-as-a-Service offering available for BlackBerry, iPhone and soon to be announced Android and Symbian devices that enables personal and corporate liable communications on the same mobile device. Users download a client software from the BlackBerry store or the iPhone store. Users then create a login id at the Mobiso portal, mymobiso.com. Activating the client and using the portal credentials allows users to immediately backup their smartphone contact details. For iPhone users (like me) this is a redundant contact store since I already sync my Mac Contacts with the iPhone. Microsoft Outlook users are able to sync the personal and corporate-defined Outlook contacts with their smartphone too.
On BlackBerry, but not iPhones, the Mobiso client monitors whenever a call has been completed and pops up a dialog box so the user can key in their CRM notes about the customer session. This is annotated to the call logs which can be uploaded on command, or on some scheduled interval to the Mobiso portal. The call logs can be parsed – personal versus corporate calls – and then processed for accounting treatment and or uploaded to the CRM implementation. I saw the SugarCRM synchronization of call logs as part of the demo, which was quite functional, but would really need to become an integrated and automated synchronization triggered by the uploading of the call logs. Integration with Salesforce.com or other sales force automation or CRM products or services are easily enabled through the use of common file formats and uploading processes.
Overall, the functionality of Mobiso is quite good at improving the productivity and accountability of sales persons or those needing to account for their call activities such as accountants, engineers and lawyers. The administration service allows an enterprise to establish Mobiso as a corporate standard app and then facilitate business intelligence gathered from managing dozens, hundreds or thousands of devices.
More Than Mobile
Mobiso is the creation of Lyrix, a software developer that has been innovating around interactive voice response and speech technologies for a number of years. As an extension of Mobiso, Lyrix also offers a cloud-based speech processor that can initiate calls from your Mobiso directory with only a spoken command. The capability is part of a cloud-based speech activated auto attendant service that can process calls to employee mobile phones, employee desktop phones or any other setting in the Find Me Follow Me service.
To administrate or configure their service, users call into the service using their mobile, which automatically recognizes the CLID and authenticates the user (just like most mobile operator voicemail servers) and can activate unified communications services such as Find Me Follow Me settings or place calls to ‘Mother’, ‘Janice Jones mobile’ or any other contact. The service now supports Skype-to-SIP interfaces, so callers can reach employees supported by Lyrix using their Skype accounts.
Economically, Mobiso is a sound offer. Free to get personal call detail logging (not on iPhone) extensions and contact backup in the cloud (over the air too). About $2/user/month to get enterprise-wide business intelligence on mobile calling patterns and another $2/user/month to get the speech-enabled auto attendant service.
Critical to Mobiso’s success is the channel to market. How can they integrate their offer into the work flows and meta-call processing demands of enterprises and their users? So far, the focus has been on Wireless Expense Management companies as joint-marketing partners and the introduction of the free client downloads, generating thousands of users of the free client and service which hopefully leads to enterprise/administrator service sales.