Third party messaging apps, like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, have become no stranger to the workplace. According to a study, 44 percent of employees regularly use popular consumer mobile messaging apps throughout the workday. But these apps were made for consumer use, which makes them great for daily communication with families and friends – not colleagues. Their intention isn’t for enterprise use, as they don’t have the security and control measures to support sensitive business communication and files.
Though the companies behind these apps have always had a consumer focus, they are now trying to adjust their existing products and services to be fit for enterprise use. Facebook Messenger announced this summer that it would add end-to-end encryption, which is a key feature in transitioning Facebook Messenger for better, but still not perfect, enterprise use. Facebook isn’t the only one guilty of attempting to make this transition. For example, Slack, one of the first and most popular messaging apps for businesses, was not even created with the enterprise in mind. In fact, Slack started out as a gaming platform, meaning security and scalability, particularly related to enterprise use, likely wasn’t a central pillar of concern during development.
In order to function as a secure, robust enterprise-grade platform, these apps and services must approach the concerns of the enterprise, specifically security, control and scalability, in a holistic manner, which is difficult to do once a product has already been created. But the latest iterations of enterprise platforms beyond just messaging apps don’t have the ability to scale or even keep all of their networks secure. In fact, these new platforms look more like science experiments than reliable enterprise solutions.
Facebook: The Mad Scientist
Facebook has without question had enormous success with consumers, but the company’s latest foray into the enterprise with Workplace by Facebook is one of the biggest mistakes the company has ever made.
Simply put, the enterprise is not where Facebook’s expertise lies. It has proven that it does not understand what the enterprise really needs in order to leverage a collaborative platform to increase productivity and efficiency, securely. Yes, Facebook Messenger has supplied a quick and easy communication platform for employees, but it does not meet strict regulations like HIPAA or SOX set within certain industries, putting organizations in danger of breaking regulation. But this isn’t the only point of concern from an enterprise perspective. The way Facebook has managed WhatsApp should also be another warning sign.
First, Facebook promised that it would not use customer data from WhatsApp, but soon changed their tune announcing that it would be using customer data from WhatsApp for ad-targeting purposes. This shift is a huge privacy concern for many who were once promised this would never be a reality. WhatsApp recently came under fire again for privacy concerns when an independent researcher found that ‘deleted’ chats weren’t actually deleted after they had been cleared or archived on the platform. This is obviously a huge concern for organizations using WhatsApp to communicate and share potentially sensitive business information.
But despite this, Facebook has still decided to formally make its way into the enterprise with Workplace by Facebook. Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t alone and the dangerous trend of consumer-oriented companies entering the enterprise space is not showing signs of slowing down. Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn signals that the company could be rolling out a platform similar to Workplace by Facebook, as it recently announced a new design to LinkedIn that also features enhanced messaging features.
Danger Zone Ahead
Even though Workplace by Facebook and Facebook Messenger may be used by many in the enterprise, it’s a huge issue that enterprises need to immediately address. Facebook has proven that it is still struggling to fully bridge the gap between a consumer-friendly user interface complemented by a back-end structure that meets the enterprise’s unique needs. Furthermore, without enterprise-grade encryption methods, sensitive information shared across these platforms is left vulnerable to security breaches. Going forward, organizations need to establish clear policies on what is permitted, including approved platforms for internal communication and collaboration.
It is no doubt valuable for employees to be able to utilize a service that allows for easy and efficient communication; however, organizations have to be cautious with what platforms their employees are using. The enterprise cannot be treated like a guinea pig when it comes to new types of platforms and services as the information shared across such channels cannot be left vulnerable. Unfortunately, this is what we’re starting to see with iterations like Workplace by Facebook; therefore, the pressure is now on the enterprise to protect themselves as other organizations have proven that they do not have their best interest in mind.