When Consumer Tools Infect Your Workplace Communication

By BroadVision on October 27, 2015

Most knowledge workers have used personal email, such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail or AOL Mail, while at work. Some have even used chat tools like Facebook Messenger and Gchat to ask a work question of a colleague in the hopes of receiving a quick response.  Consumer social tools are everywhere and we use them in our personal lives.  However, their convenience has led many to use them at work, for work-related purposes, without considering the serious security risks.

Last week another email hacking story reached the top of the newswires.  This time it wasn’t financial records or credit card information stolen from a retailer. Rather, the private emails of CIA director John Brennan and Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson were hacked.  Computerworld’s headline says it simply: “Stoner high school kid claims to have hacked CIA Director’s email account.”  Email, which began as an easy way to communicate with coworkers everywhere, has become an executive and IT leader’s nightmare.

Companies of all sizes face the challenge of providing the right tools to their employees. For the past twenty years email has been the default communication tool.  While we’ve talked previously about replacing email and how this can improve workplace communication, I am not advocating eliminating email entirely. Rather, there are better ways to communicate within an enterprise for specific purposes. Before going into alternatives, however, let’s examine the flaws with email, beginning with how email has evolved.

Email was created to allow one or more people to exchange digital messages across an internet or computer network.  Claire Burge, owner of Get Organized Ireland and a proponent of eliminating email, has determined that email is primarily used in three ways: issuing or responding to a task request, pushing information out to others, and collaboration. What was once a tool for one-to-one or one-to-many communication has become a project management tool, an archival system to store knowledge, and a collaboration tool—albeit a time-consuming and highly inefficient one.

Using email in this manner is frustrating at best and dangerous at worst. Studies indicate that the word most frequently connected to email is STRESS. Whether it’s to reduce stress, or just default to easy-to-use tools, we gravitate to what we know.  And at work it’s easy to just use the same unprotected consumer chat, consumer messaging and consumer collaboration tools we use outside the office.  None of these solutions provide the enterprise level of security that IT departments require, and none of these are integrated into one platform that provides a single source of truth or long-term knowledge repository.  There is a better way, and it’s with a collaboration tool like Vmoso.

Government leaders, and all knowledge workers for that matter, should use a secure tool like Vmoso to communicate and collaborate.  Breaking away from the need to issue a task, push a message or use email to ineffectively collaborate can be done…and done today. Agencies and organizations will benefit from increased teamwork, better, more effective programs, and greater productivity. People with institutional or factual knowledge will be involved more often and in a wider circle within the organization.  Information becomes knowledge to be shared, and expertise rises within the agency or business.

Changing the way we approach workplace communication does not have to be a tectonic behavioral shift.  We are already doing it, just with disjointed, unconnected and risky tools.  The better choice is a solution that stores all of your communication in a secure cloud, has chat-like capabilities for instant messaging, organizes documents for easy access and searchability, is mobile centric for seamless use whether on a desktop, laptop or mobile device, and puts the user in control to collaborate internally, across the organization and outside with vendors, consultants and customers.

Whether it’s within a government agency, a 50-person small business or a 10,000-person enterprise, today’s worker needs mobile flexibility, secure tools and the ability to collaborate across an organization. Colleagues sit anywhere and everywhere—in the office, in another building, and in distant countries and time zones. As a result, a better way to work is required to fully leverage the talents and skills of every employee in the global workplace. Organizations need just take small steps to make it a reality while keeping all information secure.

And CIA Director Brennan….using AOL Mail?  With highly sensitive information?  We recommend giving Vmoso a try instead.