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By Jeremy L. Smith, Motorola Solutions –

While one of the primary uses of a Mass Notification System (MNS) is for emergencies like evacuations, lockdowns, disaster response coordination, etc., we continue to be intrigued by the variety of different and creative ways users rely on their MNS for much more – often integrating it into other key business systems.

Because most MNS solutions allow for message deliver on a wide variety of modalities, including SMS, voice, email and social media, the system really becomes a platform – a powerful tool, if you will, for numerous use cases both emergency and non-emergency.

For wide-ranging reasons such as increasing the value of their investment, or simply improving the frequency and ease of customer or employee communication, organizations have shown incredible agility in using their MNS for non-emergency use cases to “get more” out of their system and drive greater internal value. Some businesses even use it to make sure staff stay familiar with the systems for actual emergencies.

So, we thought we’d share. We’ve collected six of the more common and interesting non-emergency uses for an MNS that our customers have shared with us.

1) Staffing: Shift management is a huge use case for which we often see companies using their MNS. From reminding employees their shift is starting soon, to filling quotas for key shift slots, to notifying folks of new shift options, companies are using their MNS to communicate important information about staffing needs to their employees.

For example, hospitals, nursing agencies, and other medical organizations use their MNS to fill staffing quotas from their pools of doctors and nurses. In many unions the MNS is directly integrated with HR systems and used to help fill key shifts based on seniority and overtime levels.

2) Event Notifications: From all-hands meetings, to the yearly health-expo or reminders that the office will be closed for a holiday, to even communicating with customers about upcoming conferences, etc., organizations leverage their MNS to more efficiently communicate internally and externally.

Users also tell us that by letting (even encouraging) their employees to use the MNS for non-emergency uses keeps their staff more familiar with the system for when that real emergency hits. No need to fumble around trying to remember your training during a disaster when you use it every day.

3) Surveys: Quick polls or surveys can be generated from most MNS solutions. This capability is a great way to quickly generate feedback from employees or customers – especially via email or text – and without having to buy a separate purpose-built survey solution.

In one interesting use case, a company is using the survey capability within the MNS to find out which employees have gotten their flu shots. Others will use it to following an all-hands presentation from a senior leader to get feedback on the message and other similar use cases.

4) Company Updates/Reminders: Don’t forget to sign your timesheets! Or, reminder: the local fitness company will be in the breakroom today; stop by and sign up. Quick, short SMS or email reminders are a great way to spur your employees to action.

Some customers routinely use their MNS to remind employees about key events. For example, one organization used it to remind employees of the annual healthcare enrollment and reported much higher on-time registrations due to the all-hands text messages they sent. In particular, text messages are very effective at encouraging employees to take a particular action. We often are overloaded with email (and miss stuff), but we usually don’t miss a text message.

5) Customer Communication: We see our customers use their MNS to communicate directly with their customers. Whether it’s billing reminders or confirmations, direct marketing, renewal reminders, or awareness of a new offering or outage, using your MNS to maintain a direct link with your customers is a tremendous way to increase the value of your investment.

For example, we have a customer who has directly integrated (via our API) into their customer billing system. When it’s time to pay your bill, you can choose to receive a text message reminder.

6) IT Alerts: IT departments monitor and maintain a complex IT infrastructure. However, with limited staff and coverage hours, using SMS alerts from your notification system to maintain awareness of a key outage is a great way to get more out of your system.

By integrating via our API directly into their ticketing system they can distribute IT alerts in a more consistent and widespread manner. We’ve seen a lot of interest in this area lately and expect it to grow.

Final Thoughts on the 6 Non-Emergency Uses for Your MNS 
I hope you enjoyed this short list of the non-emergency ways to utilize your mass notification systems. Every day we see our customers looking to solve real problems with their existing investments. And that’s exactly what’d we expect. The truth is, your mass notification system is so much more than just a “system.” It’s an all-encompassing platform that organizations can use to power their internal communications needs.  

Join the conversation. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve found another great way to maximize the value of your mass notification system investment. Follow Continuity Insights on Twitter and tweet your MNS tip!

About the Author: Jeremy Smith is the Director of Mass Notification Systems for Motorola Solutions where he leads the software development, training, operations, and tech support teams. In previous roles he was the GM for MNS at Airbus DS Communications (which was acquired by Motorola Solutions), and has led channel sales and sales operations teams. He has been in and around the cyber security, business continuity, and public safety space for most of his career and holds a Master’s of Science in Information Systems Management (with emphasis in Cyber Security), an MBA and a CISSP. Jeremy served in the Marine Corps in the late 1990s and was honorably discharged as a Sergeant after Y2K. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

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