Interview: Everbridge on how organisations can proactively approach cybersecurity
In an age where theft isn’t just of physical goods but of data, and criminals don’t just break into buildings but into digital ecosystems, security threats are becoming much harder and more complex to manage. Throw natural disasters and terror attacks into the mix, and 21st century security is about managing the unpredictable at an ever-increasing pace. Critical event management company Everbridge helps governments and business not only react to, but also prepare for and anticipate such threats.
We caught up with Javier Colado, SVP of International Sales at Everbridge, to find out how the business takes care of companies and incidents of every shape and size, and where it plans to go next. Colado has worked with several global businesses like McAfee and SAP and as such is well-placed to head up Everbridge’s journey in an increasingly connected world. “I chose to come to Everbridge for two reasons: firstly, it’s unique in the market as our solutions help keep people safe and can even save lives; secondly, there is huge potential for us to grow out of the USA,” he explains.
In a nutshell, critical event management involves helping organizations deal with events as they happen, from active shooter incidents to internet outages. “Businesses today typically manage critical events in silos that use disparate data sources and unintegrated tools, making it difficult to achieve a common operational view of threats and of the status of response,” Colado explains. “A Critical Event Management (CEM) platform like ours helps unify this process by offering a combination of real-time monitoring, situational awareness and integrated response and collaboration solutions from a single, enterprise-wide view.” This platform helps businesses to not only keep employees safe, but also monitor potential threats so they can grow proactively across less familiar locations such as emerging markets.
Everbridge was founded in the wake of 9/11. It became clear that a tech-based solution was needed to enable communication during critical incidents. “We saw government agencies struggle to communicate with citizens and businesses,” says Colado. “The technology wasn’t what it was today, but the event demonstrated that emergency responders needed a technology platform to help them protect the public during a major emergency.”
Everbridge wanted to move away from the existing method of emergency response which largely consisted of a one-way ‘blast’ message. Instead, the Everbridge platform allows tailored communication specific to a situation for the specific recipient, through any means, to any location. “We also incorporate business rules, workflows and logic to enable contextual and effective communications and allow users to verify and confirm delivery and receipt,” Colado adds.
Since 2002 when Everbridge was founded, it has been necessary to adapt this offering to not only help government organizations get crucial messages out there, but also “global businesses, large healthcare organizations, leading universities, transportation hubs, IT operations teams and much more”. This has led to the service expanding to both operational and emergency-oriented applications. In short, there are many less dramatic incidents that can also pose threats to a business’ operations and profits, and it became a priority to deal with these as well. Coldao adds: “Beyond our core mass notification services, we have developed an industry-leading set of applications to improve organizational responses for all these diverse types of events to help keep people safe and businesses running faster.” Such issues range from IT outages, power outages, facility issues and scheduling challenges to supply-chain interruptions. In 2017, Everbridge’s platform dealt with over 2bn messages across 200 countries and territories.
As well as helping organizations send secure messages to their staff at work or home, there is a lot more to the service. “We also enable multi-modal delivery to dynamic – actual and predicted – locations,” says Coldao. “This is particularly critical when reaching mobile, travelling and remote workers. Overall, we enable corporations and communities to quickly and contextually reach anyone on any device, anywhere at any time.
“Our CEM platform also helps organizations develop a common operating picture of their risk events, with the ability to assess threats impacting assets or systems, locate responders, resolvers and stakeholders, automate incident response workflows and analyze all results to improve future response efforts.” Applications such as Safety Connection, IT Alerting and Visual Command Centre all serve to keep employees safe during incidents as well as improving efficiency and maintaining, where possible, ‘business as usual’.
For example, last year Everbridge worked with London-based financial services giant, Willis Towers Watson, which manages over 140,000 staff in 140 countries. “They used the Everbridge platform while monitoring the approach of Hurricane Irma toward America in 2017.” This software helped the company decide to close 12 offices in Florida and inform 700 workers of the emergency decision. Coldao adds: “The company was then able to verify the safety of all colleagues as the storm hit, and advised when they could return to the office. Various messages were also sent to colleagues due to be travelling in the region.”
The security and safety market has of course developed due to technology transformation. “The historic market for corporate security and safety solutions has been focused on establishing perimeters (e.g. locks, alarms and guards) to keep threats to employees outside of the physical premises,” says Colado. “However, it’s been necessary to shift away from this given the nature of today’s increasingly mobile workforce.”
Everbridge recently conducted a survey of the key safety and security issues facing businesses today. It found that organizations were largely concerned by the risk of workplace violence. Only 79% felt they were even somewhat prepared for an active shooter event, and businesses stated that the biggest challenge faced was communicating with people in an impacted building. 37% of businesses said they maintained an accurate record of where employees are expected to be during working hours, and only 25% dynamically locate employees when a threat occurs in order to tailor their alerts. Therefore, in emergencies like shooting situations, terror attacks and natural disasters, it’s clear that a CEM platform like Everbridge’s could provide a much-needed solution in an oft-overlooked area.
Indeed, with the labor force becoming increasingly made up of mobile – and indeed temporary or freelance – workers, corporations are finding it even harder to deal with threats, from keeping up-to-date with exact locations to checking in on people’s personal safety. Everbridge’s software not only helps companies during these events but can also help them find out where it is safe for their staff to operate when contemplating expansion. Everbridge Safety Connection focusses on keeping mobile staff informed. “Where traditional emergency notification and physical security solutions focus on an individual’s static home or work address, Safety Connection utilizes multiple methods to dynamically locate, notify and instruct individuals,” Colado explains. “When deployed, security professionals can aggregate near real-time location data from multiple sources, including building access control systems and travel management systems to send notifications to individuals and employees who might be in dangerous situations.”
So far, Everbridge’s offering has garnered interest from well-known clients such as airports, investment banks and the UK’s NHS (in fact, around one third of FTSE 100 companies use Everbridge) as well as faith from investors. In 2016, the company made its debut on the stock exchange and since then its stock price has increased by over 200%. Everbridge’s $100mn revenue in 2017 marked 36% year-on-year growth. “Our IPO was a significant moment within the company’s history,” says Colado, “as it not only demonstrated the emergence of emergency communications as a major market but also our leadership position within it.”
Everbridge is set to continue on this path of rapid growth with its recent acquisition of United Messaging Systems, a leading European provider of critical communications. Will this be a step toward dominating the European market? “Given the importance of mobile delivery internationally, UMS’ unique ability to message the mobile phones of anyone connected to a carrier’s cell towers significantly enhances Everbridge’s ability to protect people worldwide,” says Colado, adding that UMS has over 1,000 customers in Northern Europe and reaches over 500mn people with public notifications, using its Population Alerting System (PAS) to provide two-way SMS broadcasting. “Together we will provide the broadest delivery capability for critical communications worldwide… UMS accelerates our international growth and creates the most comprehensive CEM platform for business, state and local government, and now entire countries. UMS provides Everbridge with a passionate and customer-focused team of experts, differentiated technology, and a shared mission to keep people safe and businesses running during a critical event.”
Overall, this European expansion will only add to Everbridge’s capability to deal with any event the world throws at it, and to help its clients do the same. While expanding out of the US and into Europe and the wider world will come with its challenges, such as GDPR compliance and generally making sure customers’ data is looked after and only used when truly necessary, it is also an opportunity to utilize the latest technology to keep people safe and keep the business world running like clockwork.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.