#data security#cybersecurity

Interview: Everbridge on how organisations can proactively approach cybersecurity

Olivia Minnock
|Jun 14|magazine23 min read

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.

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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.