In a post-pandemic world, companies and organizations are turning to mass-notification systems to enable enhanced communication, safety, and security. But which systems actually drive performance improvements and which ones just flood your personnel with irrelevant alerts, stifling productivity? We reviewed the most important aspects to think about when selecting a system for critical incident alerts.
The COVID-19pandemic has transformed the social and business landscape worldwide, presenting unprecedented challenges and threats amid an overall atmosphere of concern and uncertainty. Businesses and organizations of all kinds are now seeking to make the right long-term choices that will safeguard their interests while also being flexible enough to accommodate the fluctuations of a constantly evolving global situation.
In many ways, our post-pandemic concerns are the same as they always were: keeping people safe, minimizing downtime, and ensuring future growth and prosperity. The primary difference has come in the precise nature of the threats to those interests, as well as the massive increase in remote and hybrid workers. All these people working remotely gives rise to certain security threats, but also poses a unique communication challenge. When a serious incident occurs – or personnel simply need to be informed about day-to-day events – it is vital that those critical messages get to the right people, without being drowned out by multimedia “noise.”
All mass notification systems share certain core features. As you would expect, they enable you to send notifications to groups or individuals, usually about various emergency situations that require immediate attention. However, different systems go about this in very different ways.
Here, we’ve highlighted the 5 main issues to bear in mind when selecting a new emergency mass notification system.
1. How does the system adapt to your organizational structure?
In order to save time in an emergency – and potentially save valuable property and even human lives – it is vital that the right people get relevant alerts at the right time. It’s therefore important to check that the system gives your administrator the ability to set up data groups in accordance with the relevant divisions within your company, such as department, position, location, specialist skills, on-call hours, and so on.
Even though mass notification systems allow you to send alerts to a wide audience, doing so will only generate “alert fatigue”. So, ensure the system you choose has smartrouting and distribution features that only send notifications like OTPs to a general distribution list, while specific real-time alerts are routed toon-call personnel with the relevant expertise
2. Is the system secure?
Any system vendor must supply a secure system in line with all local and international regulations, as they relate to employee privacy and other matters. However, beyond examining security certifications, it is worth considering the issue of on-premise versus cloud-based systems. Traditional mass notification systems are cloud-based, which leaves them vulnerable to cyber-attacks and security exploits. These days, the flexibility that once made cloud-based systems so appealing can also be enjoyed from on-premise systems, which also let you stay in full control of all your data within your own network.
On-premise installation permits seamless authentication and synchronization actions, without needing to update information in multiple locations. It is also possible to send the notifications themselves through a dedicated app, avoiding the need to send data to third parties or rely on them for notifications.
3. Do the alerts make sense?
Typical machine-generated alerts are complex and cryptic, hindering immediate understanding. This leads to delays at best, and to users ignoring the alert completely at worst. As a result, it is far more worthwhile to select a system that includes content enrichment features, transforming indecipherable alerts into clear messages with actionable context, so personnel are able to understand the issue instantly and take appropriate measures.
4. How does the system prioritize important alerts?
Alert management should be as simple, practical, and user friendly as possible, requiring minimal administrative intervention. Look for a system with sophisticated alert architecture that can filter raw alerts by source/content/history to ensure relevance and avoid duplicate alerts. This enables you to define sophisticated alert logic and discard irrelevant alerts immediately while prioritizing those that are most vital, saving valuable time and effort at all levels.
5. Is the system simple to integrate with existing infrastructure?
The vendor should provide built-in integrations for popular systems and robust API, facilitating easy setup and full integration with existing monitoring and IT systems, including third-party tools and in-house applications. We also recommend checking if the system has a “heartbeat monitoring” feature to verify that all monitoring tools, DevOps apps, and scheduled scripts are up and running, with alerts if no active signal is detected.
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