What if you could take a number of existing technologies you already have in your enterprise, add a bit more technology on top of them, and come up with a new application that boosts productivity and ROI while at the same time reduces business risks? This application can bring innovation, agility, auditability and collaboration into your institutionalized processes.Sounds interesting, doesn't it?I'm talking about implementing an Enterprise Level Notification System (ELNS). Business continuity and disaster recovery planners are already familiar with ELNSs. Now it's time for business managers to learn how such a system can be applied to business processes to create a competitive advantage.An ELNS uses existing forms of communication - phone systems, e-mail, instant messaging, faxes, etc. - to notify a specific audience of an urgent situation. The best of these systems are able to reach an extensive global network of people, such as employees, partners and customers, using multiple languages and across numerous time zones.We typically think of these systems as useful in times of crisis, and they are. For example, during hurricane season, an ELNS can be used to notify employees of the conditions or closures of work facilities that might be in harm's way. Or, in the case of a product recall, a company might send an urgent communication to its channel partners to notify them of a situation that affects customer safety. The partners can be instructed to immediately stop all distribution and sales of the product.Creative managers, however, are realizing that urgent communications aren't just for emergencies anymore. Here are a few examples where immediate broad-based communications could be useful.* A sales team has been working on a large customer bid for weeks. The bid has been submitted, but the client asks for clarification on a few more details. It's Friday afternoon, and the responses are due Monday morning. An urgent communication can pull the team together to promptly address the questions over the weekend.* A large insurance company with thousands of independent agents across the country needs to distribute a new policy to agents, and get confirmation that the agents have received and acknowledged the policy. An ELNS can provide an audit trail to show who has acknowledged receipt of the message and who hasn't.* A company with widely distributed production facilities learns of an impending shortage of a critical component. The company can notify the plants to begin curtailing production to reduce downtime.* A sharp increase in the cost of energy is forcing a logistics company to add fuel surcharges to the price of its services. An urgent message can be sent to regional operators to let them know of the price increase.Think about some of your major business processes. How could they be aided by the addition of broad and urgent communications to critical communities of people?MIR3, of San Diego, is one provider of an ELNS. I recently chatted with David Leibow, executive vice president of operations for MIR3. We talked about his company's solution, called MIR3 Intelligent Notification (IN).Leibow says that MIR3 IN has been adopted by many enterprises for business continuity and disaster recovery, but he is seeing an increasing trend toward deploying the solution for IT alerting, business productivity, sales and marketing communications, consumer applications, and government first responder applications and citizen notification."MIR3 IN allows you to do 'proactive management' of a situation," says Leibow. "You can notify your employees or other community members of something in advance of its occurrence, such as a planned service outage." He says the risk mitigators of companies already understand the value of this alerting function. "The new land of opportunity, however, is in productivity applications," says Leibow.So how does it work? To begin, every constituent - an employee, a business partner, a neighborhood resident, etc. - is asked to create a personal profile that includes contact information, such as desk and cell phone numbers, home numbers, fax numbers, e-mail and IM addresses. The constituents can be placed into groups that you are likely to communicate with en masse, such as executives, members of a specific location, all people with a specific skill or knowledge, etc.When it comes time to send an urgent message, the system rolls through the specified contacts points for the group you want to notify. The messages are sent frequently until each person acknowledges receipt of the message. An audit trail shows which methods were used to contact each person, how often, and when each recipient acknowledged receipt."Attorneys love the automatic audit trail," says Leibow. In the event of litigation over a situation, the trail can prove the company's actions of providing urgent notification. It's also useful for compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other regulations.The MIR3 IN platform can be hosted by MIR3 or installed in your own data center. Leibow says that 83% of MIR3's business today is hosted, but he expects that to change as companies deploy the application more for productivity than for business continuity planning. In addition, you can choose a hybrid implementation for failover.See for yourself how fast this system works. Try a free demo. The urgent message in my own demonstration was sent and received within 10 seconds of pressing enter. I'm impressed!