Internal crowdsourcing is a relatively new way to recognize crises in their early stages and get eyewitness intelligence from the field. It holds great promise for organizations that are progressive enough to use it.
According to the Institute for Crisis Management, 61% of crises, on average, are "a problem that starts out small and someone within the organization should recognize the potential for trouble and fix it before it becomes a public issue."
Basically, when a potential crisis is recognized in the early stages, it can more easily be prevented from escalating. If a crisis does ensue, early detection enables more effective mitigation, which means less chance of reputation damage and reduced potential for business disruption.
Whenever an incident does occur, you need to quickly react. Having an accurate knowledge of the situation can mean the difference between a good and a poor response. Information from the field can often be sketchy or even inaccurate. You need solid information in order to allocate scarce resources.
Spot the unpredictable
We would love to have the ability to spot every potential crisis situation, but it’s just not possible from the comfort of headquarters. This often makes life challenging for centralized crisis management or business continuity leaders, especially when they’re working on a shortened news cycle with scarce resources and a distinct lack of reliable information.
One of the best ways to help ensure you have an effective and workable crisis management plan is to gather the most current information possible about the situation at ground-zero. At the same time, it is quite difficult, and sometimes impossible, for the crisis management team leader to be on-scene and performing their full duties.
How can your company better detect a brewing crisis in the early stages? How can it help facilitate the efforts of the crisis management team to cope with ongoing crises? How do you get an accurate, up-to-the-minute view of a situation?
The power of internal crowdsourcing
Internal crowdsourcing uses the eyes and ears of your staff or other authorized parties to gather critical information in real-time. People in the midst of a situation can provide valuable intelligence about a smoldering issue and report new issues or information that would otherwise be missed.
This type of crowdsourcing is very different from the typical type of crowdsourcing that you will hear about. The most common types usually involve social media, special crowdsourcing websites and the general public. Internal crowdsourcing involves a tightly controlled group of people involved in private communications.
What are some types of “on-the-ground” information that internal crowdsourcing can monitor?
- Real-time eyewitness intelligence
- Crisis response field reports
- Suspicious activity
- Safety risks and hazardous situations
- After-action assessments
Have a direction
You don’t want to just hand someone a laptop or smartphone and tell them to crowdsource some information. You need to go in with a plan. In a DestinationCRM article, Lisa Arthur offered this advice:
"You have to think about what the outcome should be, how you'll communicate your goals, curate the content, and what you'll do with it"
In other words, determine your goals and share them clearly with everyone who will be involved with internal crowdsourcing. At the same time, decide how you will aggregate and utilize the information that comes back, and consider how that information can best be used to direct your crisis management strategy.
More advantages of crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing provides real-time intelligence that allows you to best allocate resources and set priorities in a way that simply would not be possible without staff on the ground. Situational awareness and safety are improved, reaction time is increased, and your people can report the actual impact that decisions made by the crisis management team are having on the stakeholders in your crisis.
Something else crowdsourcing provides is a way to gather information directly from the viewpoint of an affected party. A company that experienced a factory explosion, for example, may wish to tap a local employee, or group of employees, who can then provide a level of insight into not only the physical situation occurring around them, but also the feelings, wants and needs of their fellow employees, that would otherwise be extremely difficult to grasp.
Many aspects of business are making good use of crowdsourcing. In just a few short years, this term has gone from practically unheard-of to a cutting-edge business tool. Internal crowdsourcing is used less than general crowdsourcing, but the use is increasing.
Don’t be left behind as this revolution in how the global business community operates continues to pick up steam, prepare to crowdsource information for your next crisis and get a leg up on the situation.
A new type of crowdsourcing tool
EarShot is a new crisis communication application that makes internal crowdsourcing possible. EarShot combines a brand-new type of mobile app, an online control console and emergency notification system. It enables true 2-way communication using detailed messages, forms, checklists, photos and location-based services, even when traditional text and voice channels aren't functioning.
Crowdsourcing is just one of the many ways EarShot can be used, such as:
- Security status checks
- Communications with field personnel
- Reporting damage and safety issues
- Severe weather reports
- Remote surveys
Discover how EarShot can transform your crisis communications and help you discover brewing issues before they ignite into full-blown crises. Contact us to schedule a demonstration or visit the EarShot website for more information.