As a politician, Hillary Clinton is closely watched and quickly criticized. So it was not surprising when the Internet erupted with the news about her personal email use while she was the US Secretary of State. It was revealed that Clinton’s personal email was run off a personal server, and Clinton eventually handed over work-related emails while choosing to wipe the remaining personal emails on her server. Leaving politics aside, Clinton’s decision to use her personal email reveals the weaknesses that arise when employees, of any industry or position, are forced to rely on outdated IT practices.
How does Clinton’s choice to use her personal email resonate with the modern, mobile workforce? The answer lies in the main factor that Clinton said drove her to utilize personal email: convenience. In a press conference in which Clinton responded to the backlash around her personal email use, she said:
"I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two. Looking back, it would have been better if I simply used a second email account, but at the time, this didn't seem like an issue."
Clinton speaks for all workers who are highly mobile. Whether your company has an official BYOD policy or not, employees across all industries are turning to their own devices to get their work done. It’s just more convenient. Like Clinton, mobile workers do not want their productivity to be interrupted by reliance on cumbersome tools such as separate company-issued devices, company email, or traditional desktop chat. The frustration felt towards corporate email is another good example. The modern workforce wants to, and can easily, use their own apps on their own smartphone to communicate on-the-go.
The most convenient tools employees turn to would be personal communication tools. In Clinton’s case, it was a personal email setup. For many others, it is personal SMS, or consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, or WeChat. In fact, 73% of workers report using instant messaging apps at work daily, while an even larger 82% report using personal SMS each day. This is a problem for IT departments everywhere: personal SMS or consumer messaging apps are not secure enough for enterprise needs. Sure, connections might be encrypted, but enterprise-grade security requires so much more - it needs admin control, it needs identity management, and often it needs to meet industry regulations.
Clinton and her team have said that there were no security breaches on her personal email account, but the truth is that many security breaches go undetected until it’s too late. Using a personal solution can seem harmless but it puts corporate data at risk when the IT team does not have control over who has access to all the data that employees are sharing.
Security and Management
The best way to have your employees comply with IT regulations and practices is to give them exactly what they need to do their jobs. Instead of ignoring personal device use, or banning it completely, it is more effective to provide highly-secure, enterprise-ready options for employees to quickly and easily access company data and communicate with one another.
What is enterprise-ready? It means taking into account the needs of your organization: scalability, control, security. Implementation is a particularly cumbersome process, and an enterprise-ready tool needs to make life easy for IT while being intuitive enough to be picked up and liked by frontline staff. Enterprise apps - such as Lua - allow for intuitive, user-friendly communication, without compromising on control over internal information. They address both the needs of the organization, and the needs of the employee.
The expansion of mobility, dependence on the cloud, and the mobile-first mindset are quickly changing the enterprise. It is important that company leaders and IT departments recognize that employees are, like Clinton, using personal tools because they find it easier and more productive. When considering your mobility options keep in mind that enterprise-grade mobile apps can provide security and segregation of personal and corporate data, and harness the power of modern messaging solutions. By putting policies in place and finding effective mobility solutions, your company can avoid a publicized email fiasco.