In a progressively dynamic, technological and globalized world, companies may encounter more and more potential or real crises. Just think about cyberattacks: in recent years they have multiplied in every field, putting sensitive data and IT systems at serious risk.
It’s become essential to be able to foresee and solve the problems affecting your brand reputation. If you develop the right skills within your company and you provide yourself the expertise, you’ll be ready to deal with every situation.
On the other hand, if even small problems affect your work, then your business risks to go belly up if an internal or external event occurs.
Recalling the admonition of Ian Mitroff, perhaps the most influential crisis management expert: "You don't have to ask if a critical event will happen but when, where and with what consequences".
Deloitte’s innovative research
In 2018 Deloitte conducted an innovative research on the perception of managers on crisis management. The results were surprising.
What the examiners noticed was a managers' strong self-confidence, as they often think their company will be ready to face unexpected and dangerous events, whereas many of them do not have empirical data to confirm their convictions.
For example, 88% of respondents said they could cope with a corporate scandal, while only 17% had ever experienced it personally or during a simulation.
That's the point. When experiencing a crisis directly, managers' perception changes considerably.
The research showed that among those who had experienced a dramatic business situation in the two previous years, the need to invest in prevention and training was considerably higher than the priorities highlighted by the colleagues who hadn’t faced a crisis yet.
So what’s the right thing to do?
Getting ready for your business in advance. First of all, it is necessary to draw up a list of possible problems that the company may face. Framing a consistent risk assessment is the first step towards not being caught unprepared.
Subsequently, a task force should be appointed and organized. It is quite common to involve the subjects that deal with public relations, the highest management of the company, which will have to be the subjects media and institutions will interact with. Moreover, the legal department will have to unravel and explain potential issues within the law.
It is also essential to plan crisis simulations based on the risk assessment previously prepared. Experience is the only useful tool to deal with a crisis in the best possible way, but it is also the magnifying glass on corporate weaknesses.
It says that a person shows his true nature when he’s in danger. The same happens with companies. We must never underestimate the power of simulation for the growth and consciousness of employees and managers.
What are the existing tools for crisis management?
One to be mentioned is In Case of Crisis by RockDove Solutions, an App available for company executives. This device promises to help companies to deal with crises using operational protocols, intra-App messaging systems, customized notifications and activity reports.
However, the real question is: what more can we do?
It is interesting to start from the well-known definition that Timothy Coombs, Associate Professor in Communication Studies at Eastern Illinois University, made of corporate crisis.
"A crisis is the perception of a not predictable event that endangers the expectations of stakeholders, and that can seriously compromise the operational capacity of an organization with negative consequences".
We will try to identify which solutions, based on AI, would make this definition obsolete.
Let's start with the unpredictability.
We have already seen that the possibility of forecasting risky situations grows - considerably - when managers are properly trained and equipped with the right tools. Now, imagine that we can implement within the tool an AI able to help those responsible for assessing risks, recognizing operations and company size, its geographical position and external macro factors that could influence processes.
Once this has been done, the app's own AI could develop ad hoc training programs for each manager, imagining plausible situations and implications, even on a probabilistic basis, and independently linking questions to best practices and behaviours to be adopted.
Moreover, it could simulate a real crisis, involving all managers at the same time, measuring reaction times and effectiveness of choices and operations, relying on crisis already solved.
Concerning the losses of the company's operational capabilities, its benefits would be to facilitate communication between every member of the task force and to keep crisis parameters under control.
To be more specific, when a crisis is undoubtedly in progress, those who are aware of it could send an alert to all the other managers, with the most crucial data provided by the system.
Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence could keep track of company-related keywords on the Internet and social media, like any other web listening tool, to keep the crisis evolution under control. It is also possible to monitor the work of customer service and task force members in one place.
This way, the risks of seeing business operations compromised would be significantly reduced, thanks to these new technological opportunities. Besides, the AI would learn from its own and others' mistakes, continuously improving and limiting the unfavorable consequences of the crisis.
In conclusion, the possibilities for further improvement exist and must be pursued. Predicting a crisis and limiting its damage is an issue that concerns the life and work of thousands and thousands of workers and citizens. Artificial Intelligence precisely serves this purpose: to help humans live better and more safely.