Wednesday 2nd September 2015

Evolution of Incident Management Software

Early Beginnings

Nearly five years ago I asked a customer……”would you take this as an app?”, the fact he said “Yes” has made a profound impact on my professional career in the time since. You see, we had been struggling to come up with a clever way of giving out incident response plans to the senior management team (…..easy part) and a clever way of keeping the information in those plans up to date (…..not so easy part).  It also had to be with them 24/7/365 (…the really difficult part).

You could call it a moment of inspiration, but more than likely it was a moment of opportunism (…..the senior management team had just received their shiny new iPhone 4’s the week previous), and they were really happy to be getting them…and probably happy about getting rid of their Blackberrys too if I’m honest. I was simply augmenting there delight in there new iPhones by now providing a very simple way (in theory) to solve a real pain and help them manage incidents by always having what they needed with them on their phone.

The fact that I had no clue as to how I would set about set about building an app bore no relevance to me at that time…we were struggling for a solution and the app was it.

The Landscape

2010 doesn’t seem that long ago, but it might as well have been a lifetime in technology terms. Blackberrys & Nokia handsets (remember them) were par for the course with most of the corporations. The cloud was something that brought rain and the app store was about a fifth of the size that it is today and really only consisted of games & news apps. The very idea that an app could be used to manage incidents in real time was lost on most people who, in fairness to them, were only starting to see the value of smartphones.

I had this fascination with apple products and I remember using Numbers (Apple’s version of excel) on an iPad® to complete a risk assessment project for a couple of clients. I can still remember the looks on my clients faces when they saw me walking around with a tablet!? In any case I got the job done in half the time and was completely sold on the concept of apps from there on.

Emergency Response App Book (Pre-ICR)

So, I sought out a number of contractors with a spec I wrote up over a long weekend. I designed some interfaces as best I could and then wrote a number of action plans in excel that would hyperlink to predefined documents and contacts in the app. Within a few weeks I had my first prototype and was back in with my client showing off the “Emergency Response App Book” (working title that didn’t last long) in all its glory.

Incident Management Software Adoption

Within a few weeks we were up and going, with apps deployed across the organisation and I had a very happy customer. I then set about building a technology business and for the next two years the challenges were largely around the adoption of technology. Questions we faced as a team were non software related i.e. what happens if the battery goes dead? (no battery, no phone, no app), do you have a blackberry app? (absolutely not), what if I drop my phone in water (no phone, no app), what if I have no reception? (got that one nailed – no problem there) and so on until recently that is….

We have caught up

Maybe it is just me, but I think we have caught up with mobile and cloud technology. In fact, I believe that we have moved beyond it now and it’s technology that is struggling to catch up with us and our expectations, so much so that it really isn’t a question of when we use this technology, but how it affects us when we don’t use it.

And I have proof, my daughter (who’s nearly 1) can play Peekaboo Barn on the very first iPad® I used to amaze my risk assessment clients….how incredible is that?? My wife uses the Sky TV app to change the channel from Sky Sports news when I have the remote control in my hand….how not cool is that?! And whilst we are all waiting for the next big thing in technology to arrive….(possibly the “internet of things” but definitely not the Apple watch!?)®

Thankfully the “Emergency Response App Book” was in time, superseded by the name® and happily we’ve spent the past 5 years building and selling incident management software. As we have evolved, so too have our customers thinking around ways to support their people during incidents. In fact, we now make a real difference in Fire & Rescue services across the UK & Ireland, in Universities, Food Producers, Manufacturers and Pharmaceutical companies…..and all because one man said “Yes”.

Whether or not incident management software is for you is another story – I am not going to get into a debate that (but I think you know which side I am on), but I might just point you in the direction of a great paper I recently read on by Ian Ross FBCI, CITP, MBCS, CISA of Upton BC on the value technology brings to dealing with Incidents & Crises – if you’re interested please click here.

“A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past actions and their motives – of approving of some and disapproving of others.” – Charles Darwin