The Disadvantages of Using Whatsapp for Business Purposes

Whatsapp and other consumer messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Threema, WeChat and Line are increasingly part of the shadow IT in enterprises, and are often used by employees for business purposes.

Teamwire, Jan 27 2016

The main advantage of these messaging apps is, that they are much faster and efficient than email, and lead to improved team communication and higher productivity. On the other hand when used in businesses these consumer messaging apps have significant weaknesses with regard to uses cases, data protection, security, administration, ecosystem integration and support.


1. Whatsapp Does Not Provide Enterprise Data Protection


Whatsapp accesses and stores the address books of employees, which contains confidential corporate and customer data. While Whatsapp has announced an improved encryption, it currently does not provide enterprise-grade encryption (e.g. metadata, storage on device, storage on servers, etc). In addition, free services like Whatsapp require user data to make a living. Whatsapp has announced to generate revenues from businesses by allowing them to communicate to customers. Such a business model requires knowledge of your users and is in conflict with minimal use of personal data, general data reduction and strong data protection.


2. Whatsapp Is a Cloud Service Based in the USA


Due to the weak data protection laws and the broad surveillance in the USA, cloud services based or hosted in the USA cannot ensure comprehensive data protection required by businesses and their employees and customers. This is especially relevant for European companies, who need to comply with European law and seek strong data protection for their enterprise and customers.


3. Whatsapp Mixes Private and Business Communication


For enterprises it is important to separate business from private communication. First, a dedicated enterprise messaging app allows faster access and gives a better overview of everything that is relevant for the internal communication, and thus increases the productivity. Second, confidential business content is protected in enterprise messaging apps, because it can only be shared with colleagues and the content distribution is under control of the enterprise IT. Third, the motivation and satisfaction of employees are improved with a professional messaging tool, since people value a separation of private and business communication. (BTW for similar reasons there are personal and business email addresses. It is rather unprofessional to mix private and business communication in one account.


4. Whatsapp Lacks Enterprise Administration 


Businesses need to be able to professionally manage their users. An administrator portal helps to ensure an easy roll-out, transparent monitoring, company-wide communication policies, simple user management, pre-configured devices, managed groups, quick support, comprehensive access control, compliant archiving and much more. These things are not possible with Whatsapp and require a professional enterprise messaging app.


5. Whatsapp Does Not Protect Against Data Loss


In order to prevent loss of business data and content, for example when a mobile device gets lost or stolen, enterprises require a mobile security layer. Leading business messaging apps support enterprise mobility management solutions (like MobileIron or Airwatch) and provide advanced mobile application management. These features allow to remotely delete content, block access, disable copying of messages and control the sharing of digital content.


6. Whatsapp Is Missing a Professional Desktop and Tablet Client


In addition to mobile devices and tablets, many workers have laptops and desktop computers. Professional desktop versions for Windows and Mac and tablet versions for iOS, Android and Windows Phone are a core component of a complete messaging solution for businesses. A desktop and tablet version of an enterprise messaging app enhances use cases, improves the usability, reduces email overload, accelerates team communication and increases desktop productivity. Whatsapp only offers a weak “companion” desktop client that a) permanently needs to be connected to your phone in order to work properly and b) introduces certain security risks.


7. Whatsapp Focuses on Consumer Use Cases


Whatsapp is a great tool for communicating with family and friends. That is how the app has become popular and where the future roadmap is focused on. However, with the professionalization of messaging more and more business use cases are emerging that require a sophisticated feature set. Enterprise messaging apps provide e.g. calendar sharing, searching for content, corporate groups, team polls, directory access and file sharing.


8. Whatsapp Does Not Support Enterprise File Sharing Solutions


Businesses often use enterprise-grade file sharing solutions like Microsoft Sharepoint, Box, Novell Filr, Business Connector, Accellion or Acronis, which are not supported by Whatsapp at all. Since file sharing with colleagues and teams is a regular use case, employees should be able to directly share documents from their file sharing solution via the enterprise messaging app. This helps to simplify and accelerate workflows.


9. Whatsapp Is Short of Ecosystem Integrations


While many people have understood the importance of a “Whatsapp for Enterprise” for the internal business communication, less people yet see the importance of the integration of a messaging app into the IT ecosystem. This is an increasingly important component of an enterprise messaging app though. Businesses can automate workflows, accelerate processes, improve operational execution and increase the productivity with an integration of e.g. ERP, CRM, accounting, HR, manufacturing and logistics system into enterprise messaging.


10. Whatsapp Lacks Enterprise Support and Audit-Proof


Needless to say businesses immediately require support if something is not working as it should. Only professional enterprise messaging services provide 24/7 monitoring and support with dedicated personnel. Besides businesses often need audit-proof backup and archiving functionality for compliance reasons.


Overall, Whatsapp is a great consumer messaging app and there are many reasons why the service has been widely adopted by families and friends. However, when it comes to messaging with colleagues and teams, businesses should avoid the downsides of Whatsapp and choose a dedicated enterprise messaging app like Teamwire.


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