Is Twitter good for disaster recovery?


Twitter’s new emergency alerts system can be an effective element of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, but companies that rely too heavily on this service may experience significant difficulties in the event of an actual disaster.


In a recent company blog post, Twitter product manager Gaby Pena announced the release of Twitter Alerts. The service, which is similar to the Lifeline offering released last year in Japan, sends out a special tweet in the event of an emergency that automatically goes to the top of a subscriber’s Twitter feed. In addition, users can sign up to receive text message and push notifications every time an emergency tweet is sent out.


As more employees utilize social media services like Twitter, companies can use Twitter Alerts and other similar offerings as part of their business continuity management and disaster recovery services. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, not enough organizations utilize social media in this manner despite its benefits.


“As social media’s use in an organization becomes more pervasive and management grows more comfortable with its use, BCM programs will naturally begin to adopt social media for internal and external crisis communications,” Phil Samson, principal in PwC’s¬†risk assurance practice and the firm’s business continuity management service leader, said in August. “We’re telling our clients that they must first look through their crisis communication plan for ways to use social media as an effective communication channel to employees, key third parties, customers and stakeholders. Then, they should look at the more likely crisis and risk scenarios and determine if social media could be used to facilitate crisis identification, internal and external communications, and recovery coordination efforts.”


Why relying solely on Twitter is a bad idea
While Twitter Alerts can help businesses more effectively keep employees informed in the event of a disaster scenario, relying too heavily on a third-party service meant primarily for the consumer market can lead to many negative¬†unintended consequences. In particular, companies looking to adopt Twitter Alerts are relying on the social media service to always be running effectively, which cannot be guaranteed. According to Forrester analyst Stephanie Balaouras, having effective communication is one of the most important aspects of any disaster recovery plan, and enterprises that place too much emphasis on one service to facilitate this may not be able to guarantee their strategy’s usefulness in the face of adversity.


Furthermore, many business workers do not use the service. While Twitter and similar social media platforms are rising in popularity, a significant number of employees likely either do not have an account on the site or they use Twitter irregularly. This may help to explain why, according PwC’s research from August, approximately 57 percent of companies do not use social media for business continuity and disaster recovery.


A better option for disseminating messages during emergency scenarios would be to adopt a quality unified communication and collaboration as a service solution. This way, businesses could use multiple platforms to keep everyone in the know, and having everything enabled by a cloud computing solution ensures that the UCC system is likely to remain online even if a disaster strikes company headquarters. Enterprises looking to implement UCCaaS to boost the effectiveness of their disaster recovery services should consider turning to FlexITy, the only managed services provider in Canada that offers the full suite of Cisco UCC solutions.