Why Secure Text Messaging Is a Misnomer
May 25, 2016
There are roughly one million words in the English language. We have the ability to name something in such a way that it is understood in a single word, or with just a few words. In communications, precision is key. Using the wrong words can be misleading and confusing. When we name something incorrectly, it’s called a misnomer. Some examples of common misnomers are hot dogs (they’re not dogs), driveways (we don’t drive on them; we park), Chinese checkers (it’s not checkers, nor is it Chinese in origin), and jellyfish (they’re not fish). If you had heard these names but have never been exposed to what they actually are, you’d likely be very surprised when you finally saw them. Because there are many things we won’t be directly exposed to in our lives, we rely heavily on naming conventions. Naming objects and concepts accurately is important.
It is no different in the tech world. We even have entire dictionaries dedicated to technology terms, such as this and this. As we continue to rapidly build new technologies, naming conventions are becoming more and more important: We need to be able to explain the technology to one another and understand it ourselves. Sometimes we apply words in new contexts in tech (bytes, cookies, worms), but in most cases we have all learned them and adapted to them. But, misnomers can come about when we name something and then it evolves to the point where the name is no longer applicable. For example, at one point mobile device management (MDM) was an accurate description of technology used to manage mobile technologies in an enterprise. Now we are starting to use a more all-encompassing term, enterprise mobility management (EMM) to explain mobile device, application, content, and identity management. MDM is no longer a sufficient term to describe EMM—unless referring to only device management aspects of an EMM solution.
Another example of a technology term that is quickly becoming a misnomer is secure text messaging. A few years ago, many vendors set out to build just what that name implies: an app that allows users to send text messages securely. However, like EMM, the scope of these solutions has expanded. Secure text messaging by itself is no longer enough. Secure texting is a feature. A commodity. Now, the scope has been broadened to secure enterprise communication. The communication needs of enterprise users (and the need to secure that communication) don’t stop at basic text messaging. The extend well beyond that to secure enterprise communication that includes text, voice, multimedia, clinical alerting, and workflow management across all endpoints.
According to a recent report by Spyglass Consulting Group, “44 percent of provider organizations surveyed had developed and 56 percent were in the process of developing enterprise‐wide mobile communications strategies.” Going forward, a term like secure enterprise communication or secure unified communication would be more appropriate for where this technology is headed. These solutions should aim to streamline communication and collaboration workflows with the following capabilities:
- Support for text, voice, and multimedia (video, file, and image sharing) conversations between users and systems
- Support for communication among users via mobile, web, and operator console enterprise applications
- Support for communication among all endpoints, such as smartphones, Wi-Fi phones, pagers, desktops/laptops, and voice badges
- Support for clinical alerting via integrations with clinical systems, such as nurse call, the electronic health record (EHR), critical test results management (CTRM), and patient monitoring equipment
- Support for workflow management, such as on-call calendars, status/preference, and intelligent escalation
Each of these capabilities fulfills an important need in everyday clinical communication workflows. Secure text messaging alone is not enough. In fact, when delivered to users alone, secure texting can actually limit workflows and impede outcomes. The aforementioned Spyglass report illustrated that “78 percent of organizations believe a tightly integrated IT infrastructure is a success factor for supporting a large‐scale smartphone communication platform.” The technology needs to shift entirely toward focusing on the bigger picture, which includes flexible, integrated communication capabilities. This is a technology that is more in line with what the market needs—a technology that is built for true enterprise communication.
By Jason Stanaland
Jason is a mobility solutions expert at Spok. He has 10 years’ experience in systems architecture design, enterprise mobility management, IT service management, project management, consulting services, and product marketing. This includes designing and supporting the critical messaging system at a large hospital system. In that role he developed business cases to justify the use of critical messaging systems and architected an enterprise emergency notification system. While there he also implemented a secure messaging solution and successfully deployed it to over 3,000 users. Jason is helping Spok customers plan and successfully launch critical, secure messaging solutions in their hospitals. Connect with Jason on LinkedIn.