2014-09-December-BradBrooks-quote.jpgLike it or not, your coworkers probably share sensitive corporate information in texts. For them, it's a matter of convenience that helps them to collaborate with coworkers. For many businesses, that represents a nightmarish brew of security concerns, compliance violations, data loss and policy breaches.

Today, TigerText expanded its enterprise-grade texting service, hoping to add to the 5,000 healthcare facilities that already use its secure cloud-based network. The five-year-old company also has its eye on expansion into the financial services and government sectors, which face comparable challenges in controlling the information shared by workers.

If IT leaders have learned nothing else during the BYOD era, they learned that resistance is futile. Workers will use their own smartphones at work and the best strategy is to help them to do so safely. In healthcare, for example, doctors and other caregivers form shadow networks to share updates on patient status and other factors, often in violation of government privacy regulations and employer information governance policies.

Opportunity Storm

"We specifically targeted healthcare as our initial vertical for a variety of reasons related to compliance," TigerText CEO Brad Brooks told CMSWire in an interview. "Usually, they're a laggard. But in this case they're a leading adopter of SMS and mobile communication. Combined with compliance, it created a perfect storm of opportunity for us."

The company has now upgraded its effort with features designed to please both the CIO and the employees, including advanced reporting capabilities, simpler setup, a user-friendly interface, lower battery consumption and the capacity to support multiple inboxes for each user. Like its earlier tools, the service can connect securely with in-house networks, giving mobile workers the ability to safely share attachments of up to 10 MB. 

Because it ties into a company's secure network, the texts can include alerts from the system and workers can contact anyone on the employee roster without using their mobile number. The metadata attached to each message is recorded, but the contents remain private, providing both the documentation of communications and the privacy required by regulatory agencies. Additionally, customers can apply their own governance polices, such as length of retention, and can download all data to on-premises servers as often as they like, even in real time.

"Security and compliance is how we get their attention," said Brooks. "How we win the day is by providing a really powerful workforce solution because people have to use it. They have to feel they're getting value around it."

Staying Ahead

Several other companies also offer secure text services, particularly in the healthcare industry. Brooks said five of the 10 largest for-profit healthcare companies use TigerText along with the largest nonprofit, Ascension Health.

"It's not a very high threshold to create a messenger, a good one," he said. "But to do it on the level on which we're doing it -- as far as the scale, the infrastructure, the reliability and also all of the administrative backend -- that's actually a very, very substantial undertaking."


Many financial and government entities to this day require workers to use Blackberry phones because of RIM's renowned security standards. "From a strategic point of view, we'll probably sequence those next because they're cycling out of the Blackberry and moving to the BYOD environment," Brooks said.

The privately held Santa Monica, Calif.-based company has raised just over $30 million in funding, including $21 million in a series B round in January that was led by Shasta Ventures. Other investors include OrbiMed, ReedElsevier Ventures, TELUS, Easton Capital, New Leaf Venture Partners and New Science Ventures.

Growing Concern

It now has about 100 employees, with 40 of them working on product improvements and about 20 in sales. Sprint and Verizon offer TigerText as an add-on service for business, and the service is also offered by CDW, the Illinois-based B2B technology reseller.

In addition to hundreds of paying accounts, TigerText offers a free version of its app that is used by "tens of thousands" of organizations, according to Brooks. It charges $5-10 per user for the full service, depending on the number of users within a company.

Despite the service's popularity, Brooks said he never thinks about taking the company public. "I don't manage to exit," he said. "I'm much more worried about how I'm going to triple the business again next year."

Title image by Tom Murphy