Be afraid. Be very afraid. Is your business collaboration software secure? Can you keep your data secure?
When you have information of strategic business value, security of that data and information quite naturally becomes a major concern.
Whether it’s your enterprise systems, your CRM data, your social intranet, or the business website, a secure collaboration platform is an issue that needs consideration -- and businesses do keep it in mind while implementing any new technology.
Nearly every business has some kind of a confidentiality agreement between its vendors or customers and a similar agreement for its employees.
The objective of these agreements is to prevent leaks of confidential information that could fall into the wrong hands -- and several decades of experience has helped businesses secure this information and what is shared internally within the organization to the outside world.
But, there is a new challenge looming.
Much of the communication and daily collaboration that used to happen between employees face-to-face has moved online.
It has moved to team collaboration software or instant messengers, emails, online forums, and social networks.
And this is great, in the sense that it enables everyone within an organization to communicate and collaborate more efficiently. But it's becoming increasingly risky -- because this is the kind of information a business would like to be able to protect -- and it's all often posted to a social location, quite possibly beyond their control.
There are several possible scenarios where the business is vulnerable, simply because communication happens "outside it’s walls," so to speak.
It could be as simple as two employees in a company having a discussion on their Facebook walls about a new potential customer their company is in talks. Meanwhile, a mutual friend of theirs on the sales team of a rival company gets the inside view, which then helps him make a better pitch for the same requirement.
It’s a scary thought but a highly likely scenario.
There are employee blogs where frustration and internal operations can be vented, there are online discussion groups and forums that teams may have set up across various websites. And public wikis and applications like Twitter -- where again it’s not so difficult to search for information and discussion between employees.
When the collaboration and communication platforms that employees use are spread across so many different websites, staying on top of privacy and information security is not an easy task.
More often than not, it’s beyond administrative control.
Yet, restricting or completely avoiding the use of these great technologies is not helpful either, and social software platforms are the way forward with business collaboration.
Having your collaboration software secure, and a little closer to home, or in case of businesses, consolidating it around the business website itself helps minimize that risk of leaks.
Having secure collaboration software integrated into your business portal with restricted access and a centralized administration interface across membership, blogs, wikis, messaging, and other features, helps keep some amount of control -- and lets a business secure their collaboration and communication environment to some degree.
Simply having a separate portal or platform for employees to use at work encourages consolidating all business related communicational and sensitive data sharing within that environment -- and that alone significantly reduces risk.
It’s always easier to "manage" something on your own servers and website than it is to manage what happens on other sites.
Eventually, privacy and security concerns are spread across several areas and need to be tackled regularly.
One good place to start would be your social intranet.
After all, that’s where most of the communication and information exchange is happening.
Tim is a co-founder and president of Axero and the author of his forthcoming book, Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Break Down the Invisible Barriers to Employee Engagement. He's spilt insightful ink on the pages of Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur.com, CNBC, Today, and other top publications.
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