Many organisations have faced challenges as lockdown became a swift reality and home-working a necessity. The agility of all types of organisations has been tested, and the speed at which organisations have been able to mobilise platforms to enable home working has been critically important like never before. As we continue home working, it’s time to reflect on how your existing productivity toolset and unified communications have fared and what implications there are for governance and security as we move forward.
“As we are in very uncertain times, we must provide our business and external clients the facilities to work together as simply as possible. Our business has been working remotely throughout the pandemic and continues to provide our clients with the service they need and expect. This additional Cisco technology has enabled our business to provide far reaching support to clients throughout the country delivering much needed assistance and guidance.”
That comment from Langleys Solicitors neatly sums up the current dilemma. Even those companies used to home working still had to wrestle with doing it at scale and getting everyone comfortable with using technology for the ‘new normal’.
It’s widely acknowledged that some tools have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity, with a huge surge in usage of tools like Zoom and WhatsApp. Not only are they quick and easy to set up and use, but in the case of message-style apps, they are also very familiar from people’s private lives. Video calls, chat and file-sharing are what has been required as basic requirements and people have gone with what was available. It’s also true that with some solutions, notably Zoom, security challenges have exposed the difference between business tools and those which have so far not been subject to the same levels of scrutiny around security and data protection.
But as we move from crisis management through business continuity and onto steady state, there does need to be a bit of a reckoning. Public and private sector organisations operate under stringent data protection rules. So for those businesses who have – in extremis – turned to a disparate clutch of apps to continue work, we need to ask ourselves where are the precise controls and the visibility of our data and importantly our customers data that ensures there’s no inappropriate data leakage? And as a corollary to that, what about maintaining the business persona? Not just the brand and professionalism, but basic compliance? Metrics on how the business is performing, and what people are doing and saying in your name?
For those organisations that have already invested in an enterprise-grade unified collaboration platform (think Webex, Microsoft Teams), the past few weeks will have undoubtedly been much more straightforward. They may possibly be congratulating themselves either on their foresight and planning or on their good fortune, but the relief will be universal. The fact is that, with appropriate licensing levels, they will have been able to bring their employees very quickly into a ‘safe’ operating environment that means they could quickly achieve a good imitation of ‘business as usual’. These business tools handle like a business tool with compliance and security features, for example they have call logs, call recordings, message audit trails all there as standard. But importantly, the data risks associated with mass homeworking are certainly mitigated. That is good news not just for the organisation itself but its customers too.
Given some of the negative headlines around Zoom of late, it’s not as if there isn’t front-page awareness of some of the dangers that have come along with those ‘home-working solutions for immediate needs’. And as we transition into steady state perhaps now is a good time to change our thinking more towards secure collaborative solutions for our long-term needs which will ensure organisational agility, data security and safeguarding of our business reputations.