The Risks and Rewards of Private Messaging Technology

Internal private messaging apps are on the rise for businesses, and for good reason. Doctors chatting with nurses on a different floor during a hospital emergency. Maintenance repairmen coordinating in the field using iPads.

No matter the industry or scenario, better communication almost always equals better results.

Enabling teams and employees to communicate and collaborate better seems like a no-brainer. But while the advantages to private message tech are immense, it’s critical to also be aware of the risks. Internal messaging can improve productivity and collaboration, but if you’re not careful, you’ll leave yourself open to things like cyber threats or compliance issues. 

Before you dive into implementing any private, internal messaging technology or apps within your enterprise, here are the risks and rewards you need to consider. 

Reward: Enhanced Collaboration 

One of the most significant features of private messenger apps and technology is that team communication can take place instantaneously. A standard feature of most secure enterprise messaging apps is the ability to segment users into specific group chats in the form of team or room conversations. 

This makes team communication and collaboration more instantaneous, productive, and dynamic. Rather than lengthy and confusing email strings – often containing people not relevant to the conversation – private messaging is clear and takes place in real-time. The ability to easily include things like photos and files, as well as tag other users, takes team collaboration to the next level.

Risk: Cybersecurity Threats 

Many enterprise organizations need to handle, work with, and transmit what’s considered sensitive and valuable information via B2B private messaging apps. Defence contractors or government military, for instance, might need to communicate classified information between teams to coordinate missions or activities. The same goes for other industries like the financial and healthcare sectors.

The problem is, hackers and cybercriminals recognise how valuable this information can be and often target private messaging users for cyber theft.

The reality is that not all internal messaging technology created is equal from a security standpoint, so choosing the wrong one can be fatal. For instance, many businesses aren’t aware that some supposedly “private” messaging apps are not end-to-end encrypted, and therefore extremely risky for businesses. 

Reward: Integration Capabilities

Nobody likes using a plethora of different apps, platforms, and communication channels to get their job done. But with traditional communication channels like email and phone, this often becomes the reality. Business users are stuck going back and forth between their email, customer relationship management (CRM), and other tools to simply log communication or find the information they need.

Most private messaging technology now integrates with a variety of different tools and systems to streamline day-to-day workflow and make life easier for everyone. Internal messaging integration capabilities are growing at a rapid rate that should only continue in 2020 and beyond. CRM systems, SQL databases, and chatbots are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what private messaging integration will look like in the future. 

Risk: Data Ownership 

Data ownership isn’t just a concern – and hotly debated topic – in the consumer world. People who use apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp are now realising that for the most part, they lack ownership over data communicated on those platforms. What many enterprise users fail to realise is that this is all too often the case with B2B messaging apps.

Private messaging app providers often use the cloud to facilitate internal communications on their platform. Therefore, you can’t be 100 per cent sure that data belongs to your business and yours alone. Aside from simply not being in sole control of all communication data that takes place, lack of ownership may prevent you from accessing prior messages in the event of an emergency because you’ll need legal permission. 

Reward: Better Recordkeeping

Emails get deleted, conference calls get forgotten, and physical documents get lost in the shuffle. Aside from the security issues that these communication channels present, there’s simply no reliable way to archive what was said on a consistent basis. Things are either deleted forever or kept semi-permanently in (most often) an unsecure fashion.

Internal, secure messaging apps change all this, allowing correspondence to be archived for safekeeping and future reference. Current group chats and strings are also easily searchable on most apps, making historical data easily accessible. Depending on your industry, this might also be critical from a compliance standpoint, as you may have to produce communication history to regulatory bodies on a moment’s notice.

Risk: Regulatory Compliance

Handling sensitive or private information in any way usually comes with some form of regulations to comply with. For instance, the European Union recently passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requiring that companies meet certain privacy and security standards when using business apps.

Failure to comply with regulations like GDPR can be severe. German automotive maker Continental AG was recently investigated and banned from several private messaging platforms over concerns that the security of their private messaging platforms wasn’t GDPR  compliant. Even more specific regulations apply to sectors like healthcare, finance, and defence, so a poor choice with your internal messaging app provider or usage could leave you at risk for regulatory issues.

Private messaging apps and technology provide a huge boost to businesses in many areas, including collaboration, integration, and productivity. But before committing to a platform, it’s important to recognise the potential risks. You’ll want to make sure that you have complete data ownership and that you meet all regulatory requirements like GDPR. Most importantly, you’ll need to ensure that your chats and communications are secure, fully encrypted, and completely out of reach from hackers and cybercriminals.