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 should provide employees with a communication app that is 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.

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 company 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.

2. Who is protecting your intellectual property?

Lock grpahic. Don't risk using consumer apps for work

Don’t risk using consumer apps for work communication.

By allowing employees to use consumer apps, you risk the safety and privacy of company plans, strategic details, customer contacts and other sensitive information. Because you have no control, 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 on an enterprise messaging app, the employee would immediately be removed from the organization and no longer have access to any conversations or content. 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.

Must-have capabilities:

  • 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 the business 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.
  • Integrations: To create a seamless workflow, enterprise messaging apps should integrate into other business software such as Salesforce, ServiceMax, and content management systems like Google Drive and Box. These integrations allow employees to easily access information and communicate in context, without needing to leave the app.
  • 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.
  • Ownership of Data: Companies need to ensure that they own and control all communication data, rather than the app vendor. This means the company can set data management policies, always recover archived data, and be sure that content is kept confidential.

Zinc customers have seen improvements across engagement, retention, and productivity metrics such as first-time fix rates, time to service and utilization rates. With so much at stake, you simply shouldn’t risk using consumer apps for work.

ABOUT Kristen Wells

Kristen is the senior manager of corporate communications at ServiceMax and editor of Field Service Digital. She is passionate about elevating the stories of women in field service and improving communication between the field and the office. Prior to ServiceMax, Kristen held content marketing roles at startups such as Zinc and cielo24. Kristen holds a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis on Professional Writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara.