Guest Editorial by Paul Shain, President and CEO of Singlewire Software
The coronavirus has caused immeasurable disruptions across every possible industry. It presents a very real threat to many organization’s daily operations.
While we often think of severe threats in terms of tangible dangers, like active shooters, the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus has compounded and complicated responses for unprepared organizations.
One of the biggest obstacles many organizations are discovering is the inability to reach all of their people with vital information.
The coronavirus outbreak is an ever-evolving situation.
Restrictions and guidelines are changing by the hour leaving many organizations scrabbling for how to respond and communicate that response to their people.
People need to receive clear, consistent information from organization leaders on what expectations are, how schedules may change, and whether or not an organization will require people to work remotely.
That last item is particularly challenging as reaching people with updates becomes even more difficult once people are off-site.
(Combine the power of mobile and on-premises devices to reach everyone, every time. InformaCast Fusion mass notification system takes the most powerful components of InformaCast Advanced and Mobile, to provide an unparalleled notification solution. Using a single interface, InformaCast alert software reaches on-premises and mobile devices with a versatile array of messaging formats to provide organizations with the most complete mass notification coverage when it matters most. And with high availability, you never need to worry about your notifications failing to send. Courtesy of Singlewire Software and YouTube.)
A mass notification system can help many organizations manage the crisis being caused by the coronavirus by establishing a central, authoritative communication channel that can shares informative updates.
Mass notifications can reach large groups of people quickly which is critical during a rapidly changing event like the coronavirus pandemic.
Many mass notification platforms offer the ability to customize message templates, so organizations can create messages with information that is most relevant to their recipients.
These messages can also sometimes include the ability to prompt a response from the recipient.
Organizations can use this feature to confirm that recipients have read and understand the message.
Those that don’t respond can receive a follow up message to ensure everyone is aware of changes to operations.
Messages can also include simple health and safety tips like good hygienic practices that can help prevent the spread of the disease, and best practices for maintaining productivity while working from home.
If an organization does decide to have people work from home to help prevent the spread of the disease by practicing social distancing, a mass notification system can become even more crucial to an organization’s communication plans.
Mass notifications delivered to mobile devices as SMS text messages will become an important way to directly contact an entire organization with same information.
Without the benefit of on-premises communication devices like desk phones, IP speakers and digital signage, mobile devices will become a primary communication device for many remote workers.
Everyone receiving the same communication will help combat misinformation and confusion about expectations during the crisis.
Desktop notifications will become another important delivery method for organizations to grab people’s attention with alerts that pop-up over other open applications.
A notification’s effectiveness is determined by how many people it reaches and how quickly it is consumed.
The more an organization can do to ensure that a notification interrupts ongoing activities the more likely it is that the information being communicated will be consumed quickly.
While not every workforce will have access to desktop computers when they work remote, it’s important to leverage as many communication channels as possible to get messages in front of the right people.
Similarly, mass notifications sent to collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams can also help inform people when they are remote.
The way workforces communicate is changing, and these kinds of tools have grown in use over the past few years to become a dominant communication channel in many offices.
Effective mass notification relies on messages reaching people on the devices and in the applications they use frequently.
For organizations that rely on these tools for day-to-day messaging, it can be an effective way to relay information.
When connected to the right mass notification systems, collaboration tools can have the added benefit of being an easy way to gather key stakeholders.
The coronavirus will require ongoing monitoring and updates from organization leaders.
Following a mass notification distribution, the system can automatically launch a collaboration space to quickly bring together the right people who can assess developments and determine next steps.
For some mass notification systems, a similar function can be accomplished by automatically sending out a conference call invitation to mobile devices.
This can be less time consuming than manual invitations or calling trees, meaning responses can be deployed more quickly.
Email is another channel organizations will want to leverage, but they should be cautious not to rely too heavily on it as a primary means of communication.
While mass notification systems can deliver messages as emails throughout an organization, emails are easy to ignore.
(See how InformaCast mass notification can help healthcare facilities send alerts about Code Blue events. Healthcare workers can also utilize the confirmation response feature to let others know that they are responding to the situation. Courtesy of Singlewire Software and YouTube.)
When dealing with information that impacts people’s health and safety, organizations need them to prioritize reading messages.
Email should be used to supplement other mass notification delivery methods, but SMS text messages and desktop notifications may be more effective when organization leaders need recipients to notice and read messages as soon as they are sent out.
Because mass notifications can often be scheduled, organizations may want to consider sending daily updates to stay connected with remote workers.
This helps remote workers know that organization leaders are actively monitoring the situation as it develops, but can also help reduce the feeling of isolation workers may feel while being stuck at homes.
Deploying mass notifications on a regular schedule can get people in the habit to checking for updates at the right time so everyone can stay on the same page.
While the coronavirus is an ongoing event, at some point, routines will return to normal. Mass notification systems can be used to let remote workers know offices and facilities have reopened and regular operations will resume.
Organizations that put mass notification solutions into place now, will have the added benefit of having a powerful safety and communication tool in place should their organization face other emergencies down the road.
Violent intruders, severe weather, chemical spills, and other crisis events can all be managed with help from a mass notification system.
Safety should always be a top priority, and with a mass notification system organizations can improve their chances of reaching everyone, every time with critical safety information.
About the Author
Paul Shain serves as the President and CEO of Singlewire Software. He has led the strategic direction of the company since its founding in 2009, and under his direction, the Singlewire team has grown from a handful of people to over 100 employees.
Paul is a seasoned technology industry executive who previously was Senior Vice President and Executive Committee Member at CDW, a leading provider of technology products and services for business, government, and education.
Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a bachelor’s degree and MBA in finance. Paul holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, and has served on executive partner councils for both IBM Corporation and Cisco Systems.
In addition, Paul currently serves on the board of directors for Fiduciary Management Inc., American Family Insurance Company, and the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.
Singlewire Takes Home the Gold in ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program
Best Mass Notification System – Application
The InformaCast Fusion mass notification system using a single interface (InformaCast alert software), reaches on-premises and mobile devices with a versatile array of messaging formats to provide organizations with complete mass notification coverage when it matters most.
Singlewire Software was also a 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Award Winner.
Singlewire to Compete in 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program
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Singlewire Software, develops and supports ip-based voice applications for emergency communication with mass notification capabilities.
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