What do we mean by resilient communications?
In our previous article, we learnt that we can’t be resilient in isolation. We need to collaborate, and and we need to communicate effectively with people, regardless of what’s happening around us. But what do we mean by “resilient communications”? What makes a communication method resilient?
The obvious answer, and the one that most people think about first, is infrastructure. In a telecoms and email world, that means no grey routing. Don’t send SMS text messages half way round the world just to save a few pence. Those pennies are not worth what it will cost if you can’t communicate with your people when you need to!
A resilient infrastructure also means thinking about inter-dependencies and using multiple carriers and gateways. The communication methods that you use should be as direct as possible. Use suppliers who offer direct connections to networks. Using re-sellers and international distributors instead of direct local connections introduces unnecessary layers of reliance into your communications infrastructure.
Diversity at every stage
If you speak with people that you work with, how many prefer receiving an SMS instead of a voice call? Who prefers receiving a social media chat instead of an SMS? Who just hates being contacted at all?! You must consider the needs of the people you are communicating with, not just your needs as the message sender.
Diversity of communication methods isn’t just important in terms of meeting your recipient’s needs. We are regularly asked whether we supply an SMS system they can use for business continuity. Yes, we use SMS as PART of our solution, but we would never advocate using is as the WHOLE solution.
SMS is great … until it’s not. This could be because international traffic is ringfenced to ease capacity issues during a crisis, and you’ve gone with the cheapest option on the market that bounces it’s SMS through 10 different countries to keep the rates low. Or the demographic you’re communicating with rarely uses SMS and prefers a voice call. Or the SMS service just isn’t available. No matter who your carrier is, SMS is only available on an “as is” basis, there are no guarantees. So, using multiple communication channels is the best way to ensure your message gets through.
Ease of use - the human element
Communications technology on its own will never be truly resilient because it relies on human interactions. To make your communications as resilient as possible, you need to overcome that human element as much as possible.
We’ve touched briefly on this already; people are people and we all communicate and work in different ways. So, let’s expand that idea – the way you communicate with people during a crisis needs to simple and structured. We’ve already said that nobody is resilient in isolation, and for communications, this means thinking about your people before implementing a system or process. What do they really need, and what will they use regularly?
A fantastic mass communication system with all the bells and whistles won’t help you with resilient communication methods it’s never used because it’s more complex than you need, with multiple unnecessary features. It becomes the elephant in the room. Don’t just think about software, hardware and processes – remember the people at the end of those processes.