How IT and Security Organizations are Using SMS in 2016
IT firms and security organizations have an increasingly heavy burden to bear: developing, managing, and protecting the technological infrastructures and systems of global enterprises. As the business and consumer arenas grow more dependent on technology systems to survive and prosper, the role of their IT function grows more significant than ever. Coupled with the steadily emerging new technologies and sophisticated hackers, IT is a stressful and demanding area to handle effectively.
To stay on top of things in the coming years, enterprise IT providers and security organizations will have to place a higher priority on communication. Effective, fast, team-based communication empowers organizations to get multiple players up to speed quickly and make decisions in a timely manner.
Obviously in response to emergencies, this is critical—and it’s a major challenge because emergencies can strike at any time. In a major global organization entrusted with sensitive customer information and billions of dollars on the line, every second counts.
One of the most recent trends in IT and security communication has been the adoption of mobile messaging. This trend is likely to continue well into 2016 and beyond. SMS and MMS messaging, which allow for targeted or mass-text messages, offer inherent advantages over other communication methods, and give IT organizations at least some of the most essential tools they need to keep their clients secure.
The Benefits of SMS and MMS Solutions
There are a number of key benefits to SMS and MMS communication solutions—some with which you may already be familiar:
- Speed. Text messages are sent and received instantly—or nearly that fast—which distinguishes them as one of the fastest possible means of communication, and that’s especially valuable in time-sensitive situations.
- Simplicity. Text messages are perfect for concise, no-mess communications. Instead of sending a long-winded memo email, you compact your messages to a few sentences.
- Automation. Setting up texts to go out at particular times means you’ll never have to worry about those reminders in the future—they’ll happen automatically.
- Two-way communication. When you send out mass texts, recipients have the option of responding, which opens a line of two-way communication when it’s necessary or valuable.
- Flexibility. There’s no single way to use a text message solution. You can target them to individuals, send them to a mass of people, use them for one-way updates, or invite two-way conversations.
- Convenience. Most mobile users have their device with them at all times, and can absorb notifications the instant a new text message arrives. This makes SMS and MMS among the most convenient means of communication for IT workers.
- Proactive adoption. Most employees already have a mobile device, which reduces the strain of having to introduce a new system. You aren’t launching any new technologies or unfamiliar processes—you’re just taking advantage of what’s already there.
System Status Alerts
According to aggregated information from Fortune 500 companies, the average business suffers at least 1.6 hours of IT system downtime every week. Calculated out at an hourly rate of $56, that’s about $46 million in expenditures.
Imagine if you could reduce that figure by half, or even a third; that would mean your IT company would save a lot of money, and your clients would be a lot happier, given the additional productivity. Most downtime is unavoidable—your response to it is what matters. SMS messaging can alert you almost immediately when something goes wrong, and that gives you a critical edge in the speed of your response and reduction of the amount of time it takes to restore the system to full working order.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Cybercrime seems to increase in frequency and sophistication every year, and IT companies need to be proactive if they want to avoid a security breach. Aside from following typical best practices for online security, including firewalls and protecting data with encryption, SMS-based two-factor authentication (2FA) can go a long way in protecting you (or your clients) against cybercrime.
There are three different possible “factors” in the authentication process, including knowledge, which is a piece of information unique to a user like a password; possession, which is a unique item like a credit card (or in this case, a mobile phone); and inherence, which is usually a fingerprint or other biological trait.
The most cost-effective and convenient solution is to use knowledge in combination with a possession: the user’s mobile phone. When a user enters a password correctly and verifies his or her identity through SMS text, the level of security is greatly increased, which should reduce instances of fraud and instill greater peace of mind for all parties.
In addition to security and response benefits, there are communication benefits to the use of SMS messaging systems by IT teams. For example, automated SMS text notifications can help individuals in your organization to keep track of ticket progress: they send updates when a ticket is entered, work started, or a job has been stagnant for too long. They can serve as helpful reminders for a provider to meet a certain timeframe, or a supervisor to get updates on a ticket’s progress.
In addition to internal communication, you can use SMS and MMS to improve your business. For example, you can send out automatic text messages after an individual client has enlisted your services and link that person or firm to a survey about the experience. You could also request direct feedback, or improve overall customer communication, with periodic SMS updates and news.
Whether you’re more interested in decreasing response time to emergencies or improving the efficiency of business communication within your operation, a text-based solution may be ideal. Because most IT employees are already using mobile messaging to some extent, integration is typically seamless, and the benefits of SMS or MMS can be reaped almost immediately.
Download our free white paper, Using SMS for Two-Factor Authentication, to learn more about how your IT or security organization can use mobile messaging and two-factor authentication.