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The Future of Communication Technology: Paul Shain of Singlewire Software On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

An Interview With David Liu

The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Shain.

Paul is the CEO and President of Singlewire Software, developers of InformaCast, a leading mass notification system. Based out of Madison, Wisconsin, Paul and his team are focused on providing cutting-edge communication solutions that keep people safe and informed.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Sure, I began my career in the investment business, serving as Managing Director and Director of Research for Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc., a regional investment banking firm headquartered in Milwaukee. My focus there was on the Information Technology Services space. From there I became President and CEO of Madison-based Berbee Information Networks Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CDW Corporation, which CDW acquired in October 2006. At CDW I was Senior Vice President and Executive Committee Member, before becoming President and CEO of Singlewire in 2009.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

On the third day of my career as an investment analyst, I was scheduled to join my boss on a company visit to General Mills to meet with the Chairman and CEO. I had prepared for the visit but was instructed that my role was to listen and take notes. On the morning of the visit, my boss came down with the flu, and was unable to attend. He told me to go do the meeting alone. This taught me the lesson of being prepared for any possibility — as things can change and you might need to be in charge. I was prepared for that meeting and it went off without a hitch.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The best managers are chameleons”. A mentor shared this vision with me when I first became a manager. He taught me that everyone reacts to management inputs differently, and your job is to figure that out and lead each person that reports to you in the way they best respond. This piece of advice has served me well as I have led different organizations.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

At a very young age (28) I was put into a leadership role, taking over a department of 50 people, where I was the youngest by far. The confidence that was placed in me was not well received by others that felt they had put the time in and deserved the promotion. The CEO who promoted me wanted to change the culture and performance of the department and told me that I had complete authority to do what I needed. That confidence placed in me allowed me to excel in my first leadership role and taught me the value of a having a vision, communicating that vision, and then enabling the execution of that vision.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I give both my time and philanthropy to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I attended. Higher education was a game changer for me personally, so providing scholarships and my time to help others is where I focus my efforts. Our company also takes part in a number of philanthropic efforts including running a collection to help feed the less fortunate during the holidays, sponsoring gifts for families of cancer patients around Christmas, and sponsoring events that support the next generation of software developers.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting-edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Singlewire Software operates in the emergency and mass notification space, developing a communication software called InformaCast. This emerging area is focused on keeping people safe and informed of all major events that happen in a workplace, a school, or a public venue. The key to our software is “speed and reach”. We reach many different endpoints, both on network and mobile. Our on-network devices include IP Phones, digital signage, laptops, desktops, and more recently, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Webex. In an emergency, we tell our clients, reach your people as quickly as possible on as many devices as possible to insure they get critical alerts. The sooner people are aware of a situation, the quicker they can take action to get out of harm’s way. Our software enables organizations to share information quickly and easily so they can help their people when they need it most.

How do you think this might change the world?

Most CEO’s list their most valuable asset as their people, and that’s the guiding principle that informs the development of our software. If you can keep people safe by keeping them informed, you can minimize risk, reduce downtime, and keep operations running as smoothly as possible. As technology continues to evolve, so do the capabilities of our software. We’re adding more options for monitoring, reporting, and integration to create a dynamic tool that addresses the communication and safety needs of any organization no matter what kind of situation they may face. Bad things happen all the time, but how organizations react and instruct people during a crisis makes a big difference as to the outcome.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

In our eyes there are more drawbacks to not having this technology. More information is always better in dealing with unplanned events. Giving people that information in the most usable way possible is a good business strategy. All businesses have a duty of care responsibility, so having tools to accomplish this makes good business sense.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

The events of Sept. 11 led to an awareness among many organizations that they did not have the tools or procedures in place to easily communicate safety information with everyone at a moment’s notice. We received a request from a government agency that had tried, and failed, to evacuate all of their people from their facilities. They needed a solution that was easy to use and could reach all of their desk phones with live audio pages without bring down the phone system. This led to the creation of the first iteration of our InformaCast solution, which allowed organizations to send live audio pages throughout their facilities. Since then, safety concerns have only grown more prominent and that has influenced the further development of InformaCast into a full-fledged mass notification system.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Awareness is our biggest challenge. Most organizations know that they need to be able to communicate with their people in the event of an emergency. However, most don’t realize they that they already own much of the infrastructure (network, IP phones, digital signage, etc.) to build a comprehensive solution that only needs our software added on the backend to bring everything together. Too often, we see complex, inefficient systems that are cobbled together using multiple communication tools. We offer a single solution for organizations to leverage technology they already own, connect it all, and simplify their emergency communication plan to get information in. front of people quickly.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

We have seen a wider adoption of tools like ours for general communication regarding the pandemic. Because InformaCast can reach people on mobile and on-premises devices, it has been ideal for organizations that have to keep their people informed about shifting to remote work environments and providing other health and safety updates as recommendations and guidelines have shifted. Moving forward, the task of keeping people informed will be more challenging as a hybrid work environment becomes more widely adopted, meaning organization leaders may not know for sure about whether people are working from home or in an office. So, we see the need to be able to reach people on many different devices (especially on network) and via collaboration tools only increasing.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t be afraid to take risk. (People are more risk averse than is warranted in most situations.)
  2. Surround yourself with exceptional people, but realize that if you “work with Einstein, you have to put up with the hair.” (Understand the unique perspectives of each person on your team, and welcome different thoughts.)
  3. Live a healthy life. (Health and time are both scarce resources.)
  4. Work smart. (Have a process for decision making to insure you spend your time on the most important tasks and decisions.)
  5. Be organized.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).

Enable people to have economic prosperity through hard work. Guide all government programs to create economic growth, creating good jobs that allow people to succeed. The entitlement mentality that is emerging in this country will have dire consequences in the future.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We update the Singlewire Software blog on a regular basis highlighting new product features, commentary on timely topics, and guidance on best practices for communicating during emergencies. You can also follow our social channels on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.



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David Liu

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication