It would be easy to write off 2020, with all its crises, as simply an unusual year. But even before the pandemic, the world was becoming increasingly less predictable. Climate change, social tensions, technology and economic uncertainties are set to strain our systems in the coming decades.
Learning how to manage in a continually turbulent world has been a challenge. OnSolve CEO Mark Herrington recently spoke about this very topic during the DRJ Fall 2020 virtual conference. If the 2020 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that chaos is the new normal. To keep ahead, businesses need to get better at making quicker and more informed decisions, so they can act effectively before, during and after a crisis.
Reaction time is critical to managing and mitigating the impact of a critical event. Companies need better insights to manage through and respond to crises as they evolve. Harnessing the right data on the unpredictable, or unknown, in a timely manner can help, but it’s just a piece of the puzzle. Data is just data without the insights to act. We have more data than ever before, but conversely, that makes focusing on the right data ever more difficult.
One way to sift through the noise is to use artificial intelligence along with human expertise. The ability to augment existing data to the critical events that impact your organization’s people, operations and assets, and deliver this straight to the people who need to know about it creates relevant insights in real time. This augmented intelligence, powered by artificial intelligence, ensures your company’s expert crisis team is always on top of the right data and not waiting hours for an outside analyst to decipher this information and decide if it should be forwarded to your analysts. This combination enables your company to instantly identify and monitor only the events relevant to your operations, so you can react faster and help minimize the impact.
Today’s macroeconomic backdrop and operational landscape is unlike any we’ve ever seen, so there’s every reason to expect that 2021 will be just as dynamic and challenging as this year has been. Yet, the pandemic has exposed a gaping hole in today’s business continuity strategy – the lack of timely and accurate risk assessment.
Leading into 2020 there were several indications companies weren’t as prepared as they needed to be. For example, in October 2019, just one-third of surveyed companies ranked an environmental or health-related crisis on their list of worries, according to study conducted by PR News and CS&A International, a specialist risk, crisis and business continuity management consultancy. A pandemic didn’t even rank among the top three.
Other surveys uncover a bigger challenge. Despite warnings, organizations appear to be unprepared to handle any type of crisis. According to a 2020 C-Level survey conducted by Ernst & Young, 79% of board members say their organizations are not very well-prepared to deal with a crisis event. And only 21% are very satisfied with the accuracy, completeness and breadth of the risk reports they do receive.
In the PR News/CS&A survey, companies cited three challenges standing in the way of better preparedness: understanding the scope and scale of crisis, measuring the impact and reacting quickly. In other words, they need better insights to become more resilient.
Business resiliency is the capacity to absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and succeed in altered circumstances – and it’s the new competitive advantage. For example, looking back on the 2008 financial crisis, we can compare how companies using resilience principles performed against those who didn’t. Resilient organizations not only experienced less of a dip during the recession, but they recovered faster and grew at a higher rate over the next decade than their non-resilient counterparts. By 2017, their total return on shareholder value had increased 150%. These firms succeeded because they moved further and faster before, during, and after the crisis.
Until now, most companies have created and executed plans based on predictable scenarios. But they aren’t ready for what is unknown, changeable, unpredictable, and improbable. Of course, it’s humanly impossible to understand everything that’s happening around the world, at any given time, and how those events impact your operations.
As noted above, there’s no shortage of data. The challenge is that business analysts need a way to look at only the data that impacts their company, people and assets. In other words, there needs to be an interplay of speed, relevancy and usability around the data they receive.
For instance, let’s consider a CPG company with 12+ operations spread across the US. They don’t need to monitor every storm, fire, riot, or COVID-19 outbreak. It would be overwhelming and too time consuming. But if they overlay their own data with event data and human experts, they gain actionable intelligence about crises developing in locations that affect their operations.
That’s exactly what our risk intelligence solution allows customers to do – and why OnSolve recently acquired Stabilitas, a risk intelligence provider that leverages artificial intelligence to identify adverse events, analyze the risks posed by those events, and provide stakeholders with actionable threat intelligence. Coupled with OnSolve’s critical communications solutions and incident management capabilities, this platform provides customers with end-to-end threat intelligence and response capabilities.
Using artificial intelligence, we tap into a global network of validated and verified data sources and identify over 300,000 critical events on a daily basis. The AI engine assigns each event to one of 53 critical event categories. Systematic cross-referencing of sources provides a high level of validation before you need to act on the information. Further, rules control the flow of information based on your needs. For example, you can increase the volume and sensitivity ahead of an important event or maintain a steady level of notifications in a more predictable region. The result is that massive amounts of data can be reduced to a single alert, and companies can move from “knowing” to “acting” with confidence and without hesitation.
Improving risk intelligence using augmented intelligence is much faster than one or even several human analysts. In one instance recently, the OnSolve Platform for Critical Event Management detected an active shooter event in just four minutes, while it took a team of human analysts monitoring news sources nearly an hour.
Examples like these are the reason we expect actionable intelligence to transform the way businesses manage critical events next year. With more relevant data to inform decisions, businesses can achieve the operational resiliency they need to help them move fast and recover earlier.
Discover tips and best practices to develop your crisis management plans and communication strategy in our COVID-19 Resource Center.