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How to improve enterprise messaging in mission critical situations

This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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Effective communication is critical to businesses of any size. Employers are challenged with not only finding the most effective and secure communications platform that can reach an increasingly mobile workforce, but for many, one that also delivers in mission critical scenarios. As business operations are affected by unexpected events such as natural disasters or adverse weather conditions, businesses need to make sure they minimise that impact. Effective mission critical communications are key to achieving this.

This is not as simple as it sounds however. With the rise of BYOD in the enterprise, the number of devices each employee has access to is increasing, as is the number of methods of communication they use. Employees could be using SMS, telephone, email, instant messaging and OTT apps. Enterprises need to be confident that despite this complexity, a mission critical message will reach the recipient no matter what device they are using and where they are located. There are a number of critical scenarios that require getting a message delivered quickly and securely, either to an employee, customer or specific supplier. For example, an IT system problem that requires immediate attention, informing employees of office closures or alerting team members on call to an emergency situation. Enterprises need to have a robust communications policy in place to make sure the message gets to the recipient regardless of the impact of BYOD.

Enterprises also need to ensure the communication system can manage responses to a message, for example, IT staff en route to fix an IT system problem should be able to alert the business and avoid duplication of efforts. There has to be a system in place with which to manage incoming communications in a mission critical situation. This could be from the very simple response to more complex response systems. Key to this is that employees are aware of the required process and response to make sure the system works effectively.

Enterprise communications in mission critical situations also need to be scalable – depending on the situation it is sometimes crucial to notify a very wide range of people at short notice, such as notifying employees of natural disasters. The nature of the situation is that there is little notice, and as such enterprises need to be flexible, adaptable and responsive in order to react as quickly as possible. Even for events that are anticipated such as transport strikes, it is impossible to predict the full impact until it happens. Businesses need to be able to quickly and reliably reach all their employees to notify them of the situation and inform them whether they should work from home or make their way into the office. By notifying employees ahead of time it can ensure business productivity by preventing employees from battling the crowds to make it in to work.

In terms of selecting a universal technology, anyone with a mobile device and SIM card can receive an SMS, regardless of the type of device or their mobile network operator. Furthermore, SMS is the last service to go with limited signal; making it the most widely accessible form of communication in critical situations. However, despite the longevity of SMS, IM is growing in popularity, with a

recent study

from Deloitte revealing that IM traffic overtook SMS for the first time in the UK last year with 160 billion instant messages compared with 152 billion SMS. Whilst IM is only available via a data network it provides additional benefits, for example the addition of read receipts which allows the sender to verify if the message has been read. In order to take advantage of both methods of communication enterprises should adopt a solution which can combine the two, therefore allowing the message to excel in terms of security, responsiveness, availability and reliability depending on the criticality of the message.

Ultimately these solutions not only enhance communication within the enterprise during critical situations but they also allow for business continuity by responding quickly to unforeseeable situations. Enterprises need to decide what they want to achieve through their communications policy in order to deploy a tailored solution that allows them to obtain the full benefits of mission critical enterprise messaging.

Top tips for improving mission critical communications

  • Have a standard communications policy in place
  • Ensure all employees are aware of standard policy in mission critical situations
  • React to situations in a timely and efficient manner and use tools that react in the same way
  • Ensure employees can be contacted regardless of the device they are using or their location
  • Establish where it needs to be a two-way communication process and enable this capability where necessary