Emergency Notification Technology is a Critical Component of Life at MassMutual

Founded in 1851 in Springfield, MA, MassMutual is one of the world’s largest life insurance providers. The company is currently ranked 94 in the Fortune 500 and ended 2012 with $508 billion in assets, clearly demonstrating their competency in continuity of operations, too. As a user of Cassidian Communications’ notification solutions and services, MassMutual realizes that keeping their approximately 6,700 employees connected is a critical component.

We recently spoke with Chris Olson, Assistant Vice President of Enterprise Continuity Planning and Records Management (pictured above), who said that manual call trees quickly became inefficient as their company grew, both within MassMutual and through acquisition of subsidiaries, including Babson Capital Management LLC, Baring Asset Management Limited, Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC and OppenheimerFunds, Inc.

Since its implementation of The Communicator!® NXT™ notification solution in 2008, MassMutual has relied on the hosted technology to share information regarding several emergency situations, specifically anything with the potential to disrupt business. And over the past two years alone, they have identified the following top incidents or threats in the vicinity of MassMutual operations: 47 earthquakes, 40 snow/ice events, 38 hurricanes/typhoons, 38 power failures, 24 tornadoes and 19 civil unrest/protests.

Following the tragic Boston Marathon bombings in April, The Communicator! NXT solution was used heavily to communicate with personnel in MassMutual offices located within the crime scene. With a shelter-in-place issued just minutes before business began that day, Chris and his team sent messages to all available devices of affected personnel, letting them know the office was closed and of the recent announcement by the City.

The Communicator! NXT was also utilized in preparation of, and then following, Hurricane Sandy last October. Chris said, “As the storm was coming up the coast, we knew it was going to be fairly devastating. We sent a proactive message out to over 6,000 people, giving them advice on how to prepare, reminding them of MassMutual’s emergency hotline number and asking them to report any issues, whether they were stranded or simply needed guidance.” He added, “After the storm passed, we sent messages letting employees know that our buildings had power and asking them to report-to-work the next day or to let us know if they had issues that would keep them from doing so.”

MassMutual’s extensive use of The Communicator! NXT has taught them many lessons that have evolved into best practices. Chris recently shared this experience at the Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) Fall World Conference in San Diego, CA, focusing on local, regional and international events that had impacted their business, how they responded to them and what they learned. When asked about the impression of his presentation on his audience, Chris said, “While everyone is different, their business is different and they reside in different parts of the country and even abroad, everyone appreciated the opportunity to hear what we have learned from going through these actual events – actually putting into practice some of the things we’ve learned in real-life scenarios. The attendees found the information very interesting, and I believe very useful.”

Of the points he made at DRJ, here are a few Chris finds highly important regarding MassMutual’s use of emergency notification technology:

  • Time will be your enemy in a crisis, so think about and set up potential scenarios in advance. Chris said the benefits of having the ability to make changes to pre-canned messages really showed during the Boston Marathon bombing and ultimately helped them to get the word out as quickly as they did.
  • Conduct regular maintenance to isolate and correct issues prior to an emergency situation. This includes making sure groups are accurate and accounting for any changes to personnel data. For example, MassMutual utilizes Cassidian Communications’ Auto Import option to regularly update contact information within The Communicator! NXT from their human resources (HR) system. When their HR department made a change to one of the fields in their database, the dynamic groups in The Communicator! NXT were in turn affected. However, by performing regular maintenance, Chris and his team were able to catch this problem in time.
  • For organizations with multiple locations, have an alternate user outside your region. Chris said that this is helpful in the event of a regional issue because your normal response team may be affected by the same problem. They discovered a need for this during 2011’s winter storm that shut down parts of the northeast for almost two weeks, when their entire continuity team, who is responsible for the notification system, was without power. Chris recommends having someone outside of the primary users’ region routinely use the system, including maintenance, testing and activation, so that they are prepared to step up when necessary.

Another less critical recommendation Chris makes is to consider other use cases for your emergency notification system. MassMutual employs The Communicator! NXT for a wide variety of routine situations to maximize their return on investment and keep staff familiar with the technology. For example, the company’s head groundskeeper utilizes the system to mobilize their snow removal team in the early morning hours, so that personnel can safely enter their offices. One of their executive leaders also uses it to make sure individuals are aware of critical messages he has sent to their email inboxes. In his last case in point, Chris said that during an educational conference, employees were asked to provide their cell phone numbers so that The Communicator! NXT could send SMS/text messages with event-related information.

It’s obvious that The Communicator! NXT emergency notification system has become a vital part of MassMutual’s operations, not only in contingencies, but for everyday occurrences as well. As they look forward to 2014 and beyond, Chris and his team will explore how to better communicate with their international offices through use of The Communicator! NXT. The company is also considering adding Cassidian Communications’ desktop alert solution to its arsenal of tools for scenarios where an audible notification would be unfavorable, like an active shooter situation, as well as for computer-related events, like a phishing attack.

Cassidian Communications is proud to partner with this successful company and innovative notification user. We look forward to working alongside them to meet their communications goals for many more years!