When “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough

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When “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough

Charlotte snapped the lid of her laptop shut with an annoyed huff. She snatched up her cell phone and shot off a quick text to her assistant, “Thank you, next. Cross them off the list. Find me some more names.” She was frustrated with how that had gone, from start to finish. Thirty minutes prior, her phone sent her an alert that it was time to have that conference call with the prospective partner she had been considering working with to help solve some payroll issues she’d been having in her small business. Her schedule had been jam-packed today and she said a little thank you into the ether to her calendar for the reminder. Opening up the event though, she realized the video conference call was with a software she wasn’t familiar with.

Dropping her bag on the floor of the hotel room she had just checked into, she tapped on the provided link with her thumb. Quickly, the phone alerted her that she couldn’t join the meeting without downloading the application, and of course, it wasn’t available for her phone. Now glancing at the clock and bending down to dig through her bag for her laptop, she realized she might end up being late to this conference. After hurriedly signing in and starting the process of the application downloading to her computer, her irritation began to rise. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t simply use the conferencing tools that worked just fine on her mobile. She finally was able to join the video conference, but it didn’t get better from there. The sound was intermittent, and the video kept freezing. She was thankful when the pitch was finally done. Truthfully, she thought to herself, it was over before it started. She didn’t want to partner with them with such a bad taste in her mouth right from the get-go. Maybe it was unfair of her to judge them so harshly this early, but her gut told her there had to be someone else out there that could offer what she was looking for without making it difficult.

Charlotte’s story isn’t unique. Have you considered the effects of the collaboration tools used in your organization?

Maybe you’ve had potential customers just like Charlotte and didn’t quite know why you couldn’t seal the deal. Perhaps you are aware of the idiosyncrasies of the tools you use but figure, “Oh well, good enough is good enough,” and just ignore it, trying to work around the issues as best you can. Collaboration tools, like the video conferencing in Charlotte’s story, can have an important place in the organizations of today. Used effectively, they can harness the ability to reach across state lines, time zones, and country borders significantly quicker and cheaper than any other method of connecting people face-to-face. But, as we saw above, breakdowns in these tools can be costly in more ways than one.

Collaboration tools are meant to foster teamwork, enhance productivity and drive user engagement, while keeping pace with today’s lightning-fast speed of business. They cover several types of software with the promise of saving time and money. They often tempt leadership with dreams of simplifying tasks, encouraging problem solving and managing teams and projects. They can even offer the tantalizing option of high-performance work achieved through remote work, which is increasingly demanded by employees.

Collaboration software is the umbrella term chosen for a wide variety of software product types that can be independent of one another, such as communications, conferencing, and coordination. Communication software includes email, instant messaging, or chat-style programs. Conferencing software focuses on real-time collaboration, generally with video or the ability for members to share screens and comment on content as it’s being created. Coordination software is the most recent type of collaborative software to join the party. This tool was created to help manage complex tasks that require many different hands to complete and is helpful for understanding the timing and place in the process of a particular project. Consumer-directed tools like Facebook Messaging or Facetime offer simplicity and an intuitive user experience but aren’t up to the capabilities and security that business collaboration tools can offer.

the effects of the collaboration tools used in your organization.jpg

70 percent of workers waste

near 60 minutes per day between applications.

Breakdowns of collaboration tools happen all the time. These interruptions can affect internal as well as external processes. Internally, studies show that almost 70 percent of workers waste near 60 minutes per day between applications. These statistic implicate tools that were created to save, not waste time. External collaboration breakdowns damage brand impressions, perceptions, and value. The pain you experience from breakdowns in internal collaboration tools comes from hits to lost time and reduced productivity. But the pain you feel from external collaboration failures can be measured in dollars and cents.

As in Charlotte’s experience, the collaboration tool your organization selects can directly affect your customer’s overall perception of you. When you communicate with a prospect with software that just doesn’t work, that poor performance is unfortunately transferred to you. In your customer’s eyes, that poorly-functioning tool IS YOU.

“The pain you experience from breakdowns in internal collaboration tools comes from hits to lost time and reduced productivity. But the pain you feel from external collaboration failures can be measured in dollars and cents.”

The tools that you use to communicate are a portrait of your abilities. What sort of portrait are you painting? Every impression — especially a disappointing one — is a foreshadowing of the type of performance clients can expect from you and is brushed onto the canvas. Don’t make it an ugly portrait. Create a masterpiece. Don’t let a tool knock you out of the running because you made the mistake of thinking your current solution was “good enough.”

In our current landscape, one might suggest there are now too MANY options for collaboration, frustrating the organizational selection process. A quick Internet search delivers millions of results, including both free and paid options. You can find collaboration tools packaged as software-as-a-service or part of a platform that promises to deliver everything you need to be successful in your digital transformation. When individual tools are chosen over integrated platforms, organizations often find that different departments adopt disparate feature sets for their own purposes that often don’t work together across the organization. Additionally, without oversight, these disparate tools could potentially bring security risks to the organization and its valuable data.The harsh reality is people just want the solution to work for their needs. Anything less is a poor investment and will result in teams finding a different, possibly riskier option.

Before diving into whatever software is at the top of the results list, keep in mind a couple of potential pitfalls. Many people may be tempted by the allure of a free product. But unfortunately, in our world, free typically comes with an unseen price tag. When the bill comes due, can you afford it? You may be better off with a paid choice, especially one with true price transparency. This is an important investment, so choose wisely.

You’ll need to have a vision and a strategy for how these tools fit into your situation and how they can add value. The whole point of these programs is successful collaboration. But if they are applied haphazardly or without measurable goals, your employees may abandon the tools altogether. This leaves you with not only a wasted investment, but also the opportunity cost of not choosing the right solution.

If you find yourself selecting these tools without expert guidance, here are a few tips for you to keep in mind.

  • Immediately reject any product that can’t guarantee your data’s security. The trust that is implicit when you are responsible for sheltering the sanctity of confidential data is too precious to not prioritize above all else.

  • You should expect a platform with features and functionality that overlap your needs so you can focus on the business of getting things done instead of getting stuck in the technical weeds of which individual tool works for each department’s needs.

  • Remember to account for the necessity of functionality outside of the office. It’s a mobile-world and these tools being able to work on the go isn’t a bonus, it’s imperative for today’s business environment.

  • It’s important to find tools that will consolidate and simplify your collaboration environment.

  • Don’t forget to consider interoperability. Especially in the B2B space, having tools that work seamlessly with your current or potential customers’ platforms is a major positive that’s too important to overlook.

Are you allowing your reputation to be diluted by poor collaboration tools, like Charlotte’s rejected vendor?

At ROVE, we pride ourselves in taking the time to analyze the needs of your business, employees and customers when determining the right solution to fit your needs. Like many solutions in technology, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. We want to partner with you in understanding your organizational requirements and find solutions that deliver value and better user engagement. We want to extend the ease of use and intuitive experience offered by consumer-directed tools into your complex business landscape. Let us help you rise above “good enough” to an experience that delights not only your team but also your customers.

Written by:

Rob Hawley, Practice Lead, Enterprise Collaboration, ROVE

Jon Snipes, Senior Technical Consultant, ROVE

with Pat Bodin, Chief Technical Officer, ROVE

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How Secure are You?

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How Secure are You?

Daniel awoke with a start to the harsh tones of his morning alarm. He mashed the snooze button on his phone that he kept next to him on his bedside table. Rubbing the sleep from his bleary eyes, he opened his email to get a jump on his day. While lying there, with his bed still beckoning him back to sleep, he considered how little sleep he was running on. There had been a lot of changes at work lately, and as the Director of IT he had been overseeing and controlling the chaos as best he knew how. “Junk, delete. Junk, delete,” he whispered to himself as he virtually crumpled and tossed emails into his digital trash bin. But this next email, it wasn’t junk.

Daniel tapped the email to open up his daily news alert.

Scanning the headlines, a competitor’s name popped out…

Daniel tapped the email to open up his daily news alert. Scanning the headlines, a competitor’s name popped out. They had suffered a massive security breach, which would likely earn them HIPAA violations and the resulting fines and settlements. Daniel pondered the damage to their brand and reputation and couldn’t help but wonder what would happen should he find himself and his organization in a similar situation. Before he had much time to think about it, his cell phone alarm blasted him out of his fog and urged him up out of bed.

While driving to work, Daniel revisited his early morning concerns and wondered what sort of security weaknesses his own organization could be having. With the swath of new employees that had just begun working, the possibility of password sharing was strong, with new employees perhaps not yet having access to the things they need to do their jobs correctly. The complex password standards could potentially be ignored by more seasoned employees that were becoming complacent in their positions and that was just in the hospital. What about the private practices that were connected to the healthcare organization? Daniel didn’t have many eyes and ears in those offices and he fretted about the ramifications of poor execution of his carefully selected safeguards of the protected health information entrusted to them to keep private and confidential.

At work, it was clear the leadership was having similar worries. Emails were coming in all morning from the CEO, members of the board, and even the Chief Medical Officer shot one over. Daniel was hopeful that the budget funds he had invested in IT infrastructure and security were well spent and that the organization’s policies and procedures had enough precautions built in to protect the data they had been entrusted with, which was so desirable to hackers and those with duplicitous intent. Even though it seemed like all his bases had been covered, he felt a crack in the foundation of his certainty. As Daniel walked around the office, he noticed a few passwords written on sticky notes clinging to user monitors and started to wonder if they were really secure.

Doubt blew bitterly around him, eroding the confidence he once felt. But even with this realization, he had to accept that he didn’t know where to turn.

Daniel’s situation is not unique. You might even be Daniel. As a consultant with ROVE, specializing in modern security and digital transformation, I’ve had my fair share of clients who are looking for products and solutions that can give them peace of mind and confidence about the strength of their infrastructure and data protection. I’ve counseled and created solutions for people in Daniel’s position for many years. If you haven’t taken inventory of the security policies at your organization lately, you may very well be behind the times and leaving your precious data open for damage and destruction.

Modern application architectures and hybrid IT are pushing security boundaries off the premise and into the cloud, far and beyond the traditional workplace. As a result, defining and enforcing security policies is both more complex and more necessary than ever. In the wake of several high-profile security breaches, more and more organizations are realizing they cannot trust the security of their sensitive data to just a person’s username and password. The average HIPAA violation fine due to password theft or security protocols resulting from insufficient authentication of a user’s identity can be a budget buster. But even outside the medical industry, loss of protected client data is a huge blow to the trust an organization has built.

Trust is earned, and trust is everything. A breach of trust can take years and countless dollars of investment to begin to rebuild.

There are many problems with attempting to protect your valuable data using only passwords. First of all, it puts the security burden on your users. In the healthcare industry, your users have lives to save and password creation isn’t even close to their highest priority. Further, it expects them to not only create unique passwords using the most current best practices, but it expects them to remember them, as well. Since most computer-operating humans have several of these types of passwords to remember, this leads to the next security problem. All these lengthy, complex passwords are hard for users to keep up with. This issue usually results in two major problems: account lockouts and password re-use. Account lockouts create downtime, and thanks to Murphy’s Law, usually at the worst possible times. Account lockouts cause loss of productivity, loss of revenue, loss of trust, and potentially, in the healthcare industry, catastrophic medical outcomes. Alternatively, some users may attempt to avoid lockouts by reusing passwords, which brings its own issues. A sobering report from Verizon showed the nature of relying on highly-exploitable passwords, with a stunning 81% of hacking incidents resulting from exploiting stolen or weak passwords.

Yet another potential risky outcome of your current security protocols is account sharing. Users may find the complex, multi-step password setup you currently have as laborious and instead may opt to share accounts. While this might seem like a harmless shortcut to them, it erases any accountability or ability to identify who made changes. Additionally, this practice eliminates any security through the process of authorization. This process ensures whether an individual should have access to certain programs and data, which is subverted through the practice of password or account sharing.

Clearly, in today’s environment, passwords alone are no longer an effective way of protecting your critical apps and data. With a growing mobile workforce, applications in multiple clouds, and tons of devices outside of IT control, many organizations are investing instead in multi-factor authentication. This advanced method of authentication requires information from at least two independent categories working together to allow access to protected data. Multi-factor authentication is the gold standard, commonly used in financial and law enforcement environments. The future may even be password free.

The future may even be password free.

It’s possible to have data protection that goes beyond passwords by combining something your end users know, their password, with something they have, like their mobile device, to provide secure access to all your apps and data. Any comprehensive security strategy should reduce the risk of security and data breaches. Your strategy should reduce compliance risk, simplify security operations, and be up to the challenge of protecting apps and data outside the network perimeter. Is your security strategy strong enough to deliver? If you find yourself in Daniel’s position, with doubt corroding your confidence and competence, it’s time to seek help to restore a level of measured assurance.

Written by:

Reece Johnson, Senior Technical Architect, ROVE

with Pat Bodin, Chief Technical Officer, ROVE

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