A challenge for many companies and organizations is that a large number of employees work from or use mobile devices Work location relocated to the home office Has. They often lack the right communication solution to exchange ideas directly with colleagues. Therefore, they use devices that are not managed by the company, such as their private smartphones and unauthorized apps such as WhatsApp.
Such shadow IT is not GDPR-compliant and endangers data security, which plays a particularly important role for KRITIS companies. The following seven tips support IT administrators in structuring communication between stationary and mobile employees securely and in selecting the right communication solution.
1. Be self-critical in internal communication
The fact that employees carelessly use unauthorized applications on their mobile devices for internal communication is due in many places to the fact that they are not aware of the associated dangers with regard to IT security. Instead of adopting a laissez-faire attitude and letting employees just do it, IT administrators should create an awareness of the problems associated with the use of such applications in terms of data protection and security. In this way, they generate the necessary understanding why a secure and GDPR-compliant alternative is necessary. If you fail to do this, you should be aware that shadow IT is growing and that you can be held responsible for any data leakage.
2. Communication solution: Keeping an eye on employee needs
IT administrators should check carefully which applications employees use for their two-way communication and in which cases they use instant messaging. This gives you valuable insights into which functionalities are particularly important to users. For example, alerting and live location transmission for mobile employees of blue-light organizations are central, while the connection to third-party systems, such as the CRM system, is essential for sales staff in the field so that customer data can be queried and updated at any time. Keeping an eye on employee needs helps IT administrators to select a suitable communication solution. At the same time, with such an approach, you ensure that all relevant use cases are covered.
3. Prioritize a fully automated setup of the communication solution
When it comes to generating a high level of user acceptance, it is not just the functionalities of a communication solution that are decisive. IT administrators should be able to quickly and easily provide their colleagues with a practicable solution that can be used company-wide. As a rule, there is already a UEM system or an MDM environment that ensures the central management of the mobile devices. This in turn makes it easy to install the app, set it up automatically and support user-friendly registration.
Thus, the entire configuration process takes place without any user interaction and the application is fully operational the first time you log in. At the same time, numerous administrative settings enable the app to be preconfigured and comprehensively secured across the organization. This reduces the effort for user administration to a minimum – a win-win situation for IT administrators and employees.
4. Strive to integrate the communication solution into the IT landscape
In companies there are often data silos that make the exchange of information slow, time-consuming and error-prone. The aim must therefore be to intelligently link the different communication and information systems with one another. In order to support a holistic exchange of data, a solution such as a business messaging app should provide an open API via which third-party systems, such as CRM and ERP systems, can be easily connected.
The app becomes a centrally managed communication hub, which not only improves the exchange of information – through automated processes and accelerated workflows – but also significantly increases productivity: users can access all relevant data regardless of location and time. Ideally, there is a WhatsApp Business API, which links the messengers with one another and thus also optimizes external communication. The communicative exchange between end customers and customer service employees can also take place between a consumer messenger and a business messaging solution in compliance with data protection regulations.
5. Trust in German providers
Regardless of which strategy a company pursues for its IT infrastructure – cloud, private cloud or on-premise – it should always strive for the highest level of security. IT administrators are only on the safe side if the data generated in the business messaging app is hosted in an ISO 27001-certified data center located in Germany and encrypted according to modern standards. German providers in particular ensure that the strict provisions of the GDPR and the Federal Data Protection Act apply. If IT administrators opt for solutions from US companies or their subsidiaries, this is not the case. It is just as important to subject the application to regular audits, including penetration tests and vulnerability analyzes, so as not to give cyber attacks a chance.
6. Comprehensive protection of personal data
In addition to data security, data sovereignty and economy are also of increasing importance in accordance with the GDPR. An instant messaging solution should therefore use as little data as possible for operations and only access personal data if it is absolutely necessary for provisioning, security or administration reasons. It is also crucial that the data is fully encrypted and that there are no hidden analyzes of meta-data, users and communication in the background.
7. Communication solution: regain full IT sovereignty
Using a professional administrator portal, IT administrators retain control over the software and consequently the data flows at all times. It is the central anchor point to control the user administration and the distribution of rights. Here IT administrators can not only invite, authorize and manage users, but also block their access at any time. The portal can also be used to define communication, data protection and security guidelines and to archive messages and data in a revision-proof manner. In this context, it should be possible to conveniently import users or groups directly from existing directories, such as the Active Directory, and to continuously synchronize the relevant data. Aspects such as multi-tenancy and the use of multiple domains are also central pillars here.
Banish shadow IT from the company for good
A fully integrated communication solution – in the form of a business messaging app – enables holistic internal and external communication. Tailored to their needs, it enables employees to interact more effectively with one another, which above all strengthens their mobile colleagues. At the same time, such a solution supports IT administrators in closing security gaps and regaining control over IT – an important step towards banning shadow IT from team communication once and for all.
About the author: Tobias Stepan is the founder and managing director of Teamwire GmbH, who specializes in secure and confident instant messaging for businesses, government and healthcare. Before that, he worked as a consultant on growth and restructuring projects at high-tech companies and built up the European business of the US start-up Servo until it exited the Japanese Kii Corporation. Tobias Stepan is committed to mobile digitization and a strong European IT ecosystem. (sg)
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