Modern communication software supplies unparalleled collaborative potential. Workers can easily share data, mark up documents in real time, and moderate presentations and webinars in which the participants are listening in from various parts of the country, or even the globe. What's more, all of this can be done through mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
The only caveat for public-sector organizations is that the information being accessed is often sensitive, and mismanagement of this data can result in breaches and leaks that can be harmful to government agencies and the people they serve. This is particularly true when employees use communication apps that aren't part of a secure unified communications platform. And while in some cases use of these unauthorized applications is careless or malicious, more often than not it's simply the result of a poor user experience provided by the UC vendor of choice, which drives workers to look elsewhere for digital communication tools.
As such, strong UX is, in many ways, a basic ingredient to secure UC.
The problem of shadow IT
As an increasing number of organizations establish bring-your-own-device policies, the lines between work applications and personal-life apps is becoming somewhat blurred. According to IBM, this is because modern workers, millennials in particular, are demanding the same fluid UX from work apps that they're getting with commercial apps. If their UC app doesn't provide this, they take matters into their own hands. This is called shadow IT.
The problem is, these apps aren't necessarily built to safeguard sensitive government data. Shadow IT – while appropriate in some industries – runs the risk of endangering public-sector information.
Secure UC doesn't have to be cumbersome
Government agencies are increasingly turning their attention to secure unified communications as a solution to the problem of non-secure software being introduced by employees under BYOD policies. For instance, encrypted connections have become a central component to digital communication within and among government agencies, according to TechTarget contributor John Burke. This doesn't just entail encryption for files sent via email and other messaging platforms, but also military-grade VoIP that makes interception more or less impossible.
"Security is not a synonym for poor UX."
At the same time, and out of necessity, UC providers are getting better at providing this security without bogging down the UX. Calls can still be made quickly via a VoIP softphone that functions as well on a smartphone as it does on a laptop, screen-sharing sessions and audio conferencing can be easily initiated, and voicemails and call recordings can be set to go directly to an email inbox. All of these features are the foundation for a strong UC UX. On top of that, the actual user interfaces of secure UC solutions are becoming as intuitive as third-party consumer applications.
Security is not a synonym for poor UX. But poor UX is synonymous with bad security. It's important for government agencies to keep this in mind as they shop around for a secure, user-friendly UC solution.