Update 13/03/20: In March 2019 we interviewed Leeds-based Klaxon about its real-time incident communication platform of the same name. Today, the company has announced a free three-month trial of its SaaS offering to mitigate business downtime during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Following that, Klaxon will remain free for companies with up to 50 users on its ‘Starter’ plan; those requiring more licenses can upgrade to 89p per user, per month for up to 5,000 users.
Original feature follows…
Email is one of the most enduring tools in business owed to its flexibility and familiarity. But when it comes to getting critical information to employees across an organisation in the event of a real-time incident, cluttered inboxes can make that difficult.
That’s the view of Leeds-based Klaxon, which has developed a cloud-based software-as-a-service (or SaaS) incident communication platform of the same name designed to cut through daily noise.
Klaxon allows organisations to send targeted notifications and communicate urgent information in real-time to their teams on multiple channels. Available as an app, it can be downloaded by teams over text-to-link (or deployed to business app portals on Android or iOS), and is accessible through a desktop dashboard.
Sarah Tulip, operations director at Klaxon, explains that businesses suffer the consequences of not thinking about incident reporting until it’s too late. She uses the example of a relatively innocuous problem, such as a network outage, turning into a fully blown disaster recovery situation.
“Klaxon is the type of product that people will only care about when things go wrong – that’s when you get a phone call about incident communication,” she says. “But it’s one of those things that every organisation with a dispersed workforce of any type should have.
“If something goes wrong – from an IT or operational incident to a bomb threat – you want to be able to communicate with everyone quickly and efficiently.”
Tulip deems email “too noisy” to be used for incident communication, bogged down by employees emailing about trivial matters and setting up filters that archive emails before they are read. WhatsAapp, on the other hand, suffers from employees talking over each other and is for “discussion, not communication”.
How it works
Klaxon uses a tree diagram to ask businesses what teams and employees they want to include in incident response situations. It could be everybody in the company, certain people or teams, or a single floor in a building located in the UK or another country.
Using the app or desktop dashboard, employees indicate that they have been affected by an incident by tapping a button. That alerts teams higher up the chain who can then start to deliver targeted priority support. Notifications are issued to impacted employees once specific problems have been fixed.
Klaxon is the company’s first product and has been developed from the ground up using common frameworks and the company’s own technology. It’s available to businesses on a free trial and is charged monthly, per seat, after that period. Tulip is confident that companies will embed the product into their workflows and come to see its value.
“If you’re a business of a certain size with 5,000 or 10,000 people, you have procedures in the way that you act,” she says. “Moreover, it’s hard to take an instant communication tool out of your suite as it would put your business at risk.”
Klaxon has been trialling its appsof with businesses both in Yorkshire and around the world. The company’s main sources of revenue come from providing managed services and consulting services, which allowed it to undertake customer development and gather feedback on Klaxon from clients.
Made in Yorkshire
Tulip, who was formerly COO at Leeds telecoms operator AQL, is enjoying some of the changes that come with moving from an esatablished company to a startup. At the same time, she is realistic about the difficulty of the task that lies ahead.
“Because we’re quite an early stage company we’re agile, and we’ve been able to develop things like reporting systems and buttons with some of our clients,” she says. “We’ve been able to be flexible and say ‘yes’ to doing things in a certain way, so it’s been quite fun working with customers from that perspective.
“On the flip side we have a lot of challenges. We’re a small business launching a product and doing managed services to ensure that we can fund ourselves to innovate. Nobody does any one job and we all wear many hats, so it’s hard work and we can’t take a passenger in this environment.”
Klaxon was recently launched at an event held at the AvenueHQ coworking space in Leeds, which Tulip says was done to create a buzz around the product with local businesses.
“I think the city’s special with a really great digital tech community – you only have to look at Leeds Digital Festival that’s coming up for evidence of that,” she says. “It’s a really exciting time to be here.”
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