Over the past couple years, I have had the opportunity to talk to all sorts of people about keeping work and personal life separate on their mobile phones. I’ve spoken with friends and friends of friends and spouses of friends; all shared the same frustration with the long password enforced on them, even when they just want to use the phone to text their friend or the inability to download and try any application they fancy, because they don’t comply with enterprise policy, some even had stories about camera taken out of their device. And so it happens that they all feel dissatisfied with the solutions provided by their employers and some of them even preferred to hold two devices. But one look at multi-persona application and they are all in agreement. “Here is a real answer to our problems!” (And if the person I’m taking to happens to be a parent this sentence is usually quickly followed by the question “Wait, could I use this to keep my children from deleting work on my phone?!?) In today’s high-stress, fast-paced world, multi-tasking is the name of the game. So many of us find ourselves juggling several different areas of our lives, moving between the various roles we play. As smartphones grow more and more sophisticated, we depend on these devices to help us multi-task. On any given day we use our phones as communication devices, calendars, social networking hubs, information providers and, yes, even portable video game consoles. But the key to doing this successfully lies in your phone’s ability to make clear distinctions between the different contexts in which you use it. And if you’re like me and you dislike change, you need your device to do this without drastically altering the way you use it.
Current market research tells us that even enterprises are starting to understand the strategic benefit of using smartphones among their employees. This means that the degree to which each of us will use our phones for both business and pleasure is only going to increase. In turn, the need for our mobile devices to differentiate between work-related functions and personal use will also rise exponentially. The time has come for IT administrators to start giving serious consideration to multi-persona applications. A good multi-persona application needs to be well tailored to the device it is being used on. It should be able to switch seamlessly between personas while also maintaining the phone’s native performance. It should be reliable, safe, and easy to use, working in conjunction with the user’s prior knowledge of the device.