Why You Shouldn’t Risk Using Consumer Apps for Work Communication
WhatsApp at Work? Time to Reconsider.
For most workers today, instant messaging or chat is a must-have to power real-time communication and collaboration. But conducting work communications over consumer apps is a risky undertaking. From security to central administration, there are many reasons you shouldn’t risk using consumer apps for work communication.
Instead, companies need to provide employees with communication and collaboration apps, purpose-built for the enterprise. As one Forbes article asserts, you’d never allow a consumer app like Venmo to handle billing and the same goes for communication. The message is simple: don’t ask a consumer app to do an enterprise job. To illustrate, let’s run through the risks and downsides of using consumer messaging apps for work purposes.
Security Risks and Administration Deficiencies
1. How private and secure is your data?
If you want to protect customer data, especially when it is federally mandated, such as with HIPAA in healthcare, consumer apps are simply not an option. With a messaging app purpose-built for business, the company owns and controls all communication data. But if a consumer chat app is used, all of that data is owned by that vendor, and they cannot guarantee that messages and shared files are confidential.
On top of this, simply deleting sensitive information doesn’t do much. Security researchers have found that in the case of WhatsApp, deleted chats aren’t actually erased but instead are hidden and archived in the app’s database store. This excerpt is quite alarming:
“On your iPhone or iPad, WhatsApp’s data is stored in an unencrypted form. Although the messaging service now uses end-to-end encryption, that only applies to data that is traveling between devices so that messages can’t be intercepted and read.
In other words, data “at rest” or stored is not secured. That data, including the traces of deleted conversations, is automatically backed up to iCloud, whether or not iCloud sync is enabled, which is also not encrypted and could, therefore, be read by a third party.
This means anyone with access to the physical device or a computer associated with the device can access the messages, especially if the user doesn’t have a password protecting their backups.”
2. Who is protecting your intellectual property?
As you can see, it’s not that hard for outside parties to access data being shared on consumer communication apps. By allowing employees to use these apps, you risk the safety and privacy of company plans, strategic details, customer contacts and other sensitive information. Another layer of this risk has to do with company turnover. When employees leave the company, their conversations move with them.
In the case of employees who leave and go to work for a competitor, this presents a big problem. If all communications happened using an enterprise messaging app, the employee would immediately be removed from the organization and no longer have access to any conversations or content files. At the end of the day, consumer chat apps are a ticking time bomb for a business. Great for personal use but, don’t risk using consumer apps for work communication.
3. Where is the administrative power?
Privacy, scalability, and administration are crucial when it comes to communication technology. Consumer apps simply don’t give companies a way to manage and streamline company communication and ensure that every employee is onboarded with the right access and permissions.
Rather than the entire organization being connected and automatically added to groups that match organizational structure, communication is random with employees only sharing knowledge and getting help from coworkers whose numbers they already have. This greatly impacts productivity and customer service because all the people with questions aren’t connected to all the people with answers.
On top of this, the company is blind to all communication patterns and trends. There is no way to track and analyze communication in order to find weak spots and understand what’s really being discussed, as well as correlate communication to employee performance. This means communication across the company is devoid of any strategy and measurement. Without this, there is no room to improve and identify best practices for effective communication.
With all these risks associated with consumer chat app usage in business, it’s clear that an app built for business is necessary. Of course, not all enterprise-grade apps are built the same and adoption is crucial if a company wants to wipe out rampant use of WhatsApp.
Don’t Risk Using Consumer Apps for Work – Find An Enterprise-Grade Solution
Instead of turning a blind eye to the rampant consumer chat app usage, businesses need to embrace this form of communication and provide an enterprise-grade solution. With real-time communication in employees’ hands, you’ll see immediate results.
- Easy to use: The app should look and feel like a consumer app. Employees should be able to pick it up and know what to do without any training.
- Administration: A communication platform truly built for business needs will have central administration that allows IT to easily manage and provision users. This includes a way to immediately remove all access to the app and it’s data when employees leave the company.
- Integration: To truly be useful, enterprise messaging apps need to integrate with other applications that are used for work. Whether that is sales teams managing accounts in Salesforce, work orders in ServiceMax, or installation guides stored in Box, employees need to easily access all information and conduct conversations contextually related.
- Authentication and Compliance: Communication apps for business must ensure that only current employees and approved contractors are able to use the app. For companies in healthcare, HIPAA compliance is mandatory to protect patient data.
- Security: In addition to app security and data encryption, business chat apps should include security features such as multifactor authentication and customer data security.
- Ownership of data: Companies need to ensure that they own and control all communication data, rather than the app vendor owning the data. This means the company can set data management policies, always recover archived data, and be sure that no outside parties have any access.
At Zinc, customers have seen multiple improvements such as culture related metrics like engagement and retention Additionally, productivity metrics such as first-time fix rates, time to service and utilization rates improve significantly. With so much at stake, you simply shouldn’t risk using consumer apps for work.