How Security-First Communications Enables Digital Transformation

As more and more industries continue to digitize, customers have come to expect real-time access to information and services right at their fingertips -- which is why finding the right communication tools is so essential for creating a seamless user experience.

In many ways, these growing expectations have sparked the evolution of unified communications and have resulted in the combination of a variety of products including Web chat, video conferencing, SMS, and desktop sharing. However, if not built correctly, unified communications platforms could be delivering these high-value services at an unseen cost.

Security is key to maintaining and improving the value provided by these important features. In fact, you could argue that a security-first design for communications is the sole way to enable an organization's digital transformation.

To illustrate the significance of a security-first approach for communications, take, for example, the value of the U.S. dollar. Its value is essentially equal to the value of paper itself -- little to nothing -- without the Treasury Department's backing.

The same could be said for the relationship between communications and security. It is the element of security that gives unified communications its ultimate significance and value in today's digital world.

Cybersecurity and Unified Communications
From 2013 to 2015, the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence named cyberattack as the number one strategic threat to the U.S. -- placing it ahead of terrorism for the first time since 2001. In an age when hackers seem to be ever-present and the threat of cyberattacks an everyday occurrence, advancing security is not only more critical than ever, but should be a mandate for any piece of network equipment through to the application level.

For example, consider the following: People rely on mobile devices to accomplish a number of daily tasks, from ordering dinner on the way home from work, to checking the results of a recent blood test, to depositing funds in a bank account. Smartphones and mobile devices have quickly become an indispensable aspect of 21st century living that enable users to be more productive and efficient with their time.

However, if users can't complete those activities in a secure manner, the door opens to more serious concerns than just an application's ease of use or a device's network connectivity.

Security Enables Digital Transformations
Especially when it comes to mobile banking or telehealth, security-first communications are a critical piece of the transformation puzzle.

Without including a high degree of security features in the design of a banking application, users would be left with their private information potentially exposed to hackers, including credit card and Social Security numbers. While the integration of technology and mobile devices into people's daily lives has been advantageous on a number of levels, designers must keep security at the forefront of their minds in order to ensure confidential data remains exactly that.

For healthcare organizations, the security concerns are just as high, and elevated by strict compliance regulations from HIPAA. As the industry continues to undergo its digital transformation and more doctors adopt telehealth services as a way to improve overall care and meet patients' on-the-go lifestyles, healthcare organizations must remain cognizant of the deeper security ramifications of the services they choose and ways in which they are deployed.

Take, for example, a hospital system looking to offer a virtual portal for its patients to communicate with doctors from their mobile devices. Since private health information and payment card information will most likely be shared in this type of application, the hospital must assure the utmost security of its unified communications technology in order to avoid any exposure of this data.

The Security-First Difference
In an era of cybercriminal activity, simply possessing security features is no longer enough. Unified communications solutions must place the priority of design on a security-first model and be constantly evolving in their security measures. As industries such as healthcare and banking look to the future of digital transformation, it's clear that unified communications technology needs to be built for security above any other feature. After all, the most user-friendly and engaging application won't do users any good if it comes with unseen risk.