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Article • 30/05/2024

Comms’ Secret Weapon: External Intelligence for Enterprise Risk

external intelligence stock image radar

Today, data-driven leaders on Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) teams face more responsibilities than ever. Yet, they feel less prepared for what lies ahead. Risk leaders’ outlook is notably negative – according to the World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey, 63% expect a stormy or turbulent environment over the next decade.

Traditional methods for monitoring external risk factors—such as Google searches and news alerts—fall short in surveilling the overwhelming volume and speed of external threats in a rapidly changing and complex business environment. With increased pressure from all angles, more powerful, advanced tools are needed to manage emerging risks.

Despite a seemingly grim outlook, there is a bright spot. Many Corporate Communications teams leverage AI-powered automation and external intelligence tools. They are building a powerful toolkit for more proactive reputational threat monitoring, competitive benchmarking, and data-driven industry analysis.

Here’s why Risk Management and Corporate Communications teams should meet across the aisle to enhance enterprise risk intelligence and strategy:

  1. 1. Mutual Goals: Achieving better collaboration for a more solid risk workflow.
  1. 2. Surveillance & Horizon Scanning: External media helps monitor interconnected and emerging business threats.
  2. 3. Advanced Competitive Intelligence: Better industry benchmarking & competitor landscape.
  3. 4. Streamlined Communications with Stakeholders: Working from a single source of truth.
  4. 5. The Combined Power of AI for External Intelligence: Create a more action-driven risk management system by saving time, effort, and resources.

Overlapping Goals of Communications and Enterprise Risk Leaders

Overlapping goals of communications and enterprise risk leaders responsible for enterprise risk management

Enterprise risk management professionals and corporate communications teams share a common goal. They work to protect the company from risk factors and pitfalls that could lead to lost revenue. 

The lines between brand strategy, reputation, and risk are increasingly blurred, requiring effective internal communication and collaboration. Both teams are responsible for monitoring, measurement, strategy, prioritization, and competitive analysis.

Corporate communications teams often work closely with C-suite leaders responsible for risk management. This could be an internal corporate Risk council or Chief Risk Officer (CRO), security teams, supply chain teams, Chief Operations Officers (COOs), financial departments, legal and compliance officers, or governance affairs. 

Similar priorities include:

  • Monitoring / Surveillance
  • Anticipate Emerging Threats / Identification of Potential Risks
  • Measurement / Assessment 
  • Internal Communications / Internal Relations
  • Reporting
  • Strategic Response / Mitigation 

Reputational risk management and customer perception are crucial areas where the communications and risk teams overlap. The communications team works to avoid negative perceptions with brand storytelling and strategic messaging. Then, the risk team assesses the potential likelihood or business impact of those perceptions. Both roles are critical in measuring and mitigating reputational risk. Reputational risk directly affects customer satisfaction, retention,  and investor confidence—ultimately, a company’s bottom line.

Despite this, the Communications team is often brought in reactively once the problem has become a red flag or all-hands, typically for crisis management. Rather than an afterthought, the communications team should be seen as a surveillance ally.

The Communicator’s Advantage

External media captures the bigger picture

Enterprise risk teams often rely on traditional methods like reading news, reviewing SEC filings, conducting Google searches, and analyzing historical data to track industry risks. They rely on the first line of defense – internal teams and risk owners – to report what’s happening in the industry and assess known risks.

These traditional methods, often ad-hoc, fail to quickly and holistically map emerging risk factors—the unknown unknowns. They don’t provide a complete picture of the risk landscape and only monitor known risks, lacking the context of the entire industry environment, key partnerships, the competitive landscape, or market shifts.

In contrast, Corporate Communications teams constantly scan the horizon using sophisticated tools, tapping into external data to understand the bigger picture. Using advanced media monitoring, they consistently track media coverage, public sentiment, and emerging trends. They use topic mapping for a 360-degree view and to gauge how risk events and press coverage might impact the company’s reputation.

Timeline of spike in media coverage with negative sentiment for monitoring emerging risk threats

Corporate Communications teams are leveraging the power of AI with data-driven decision-making. Their current tech stack is a gold mine of data that can benefit all risk owners, with access to AI-powered external intelligence tools that save risk owners valuable time. 

Better industry benchmarking & competitor analysis

No matter how much effort and resources risk professionals expend, they still struggle to understand how their program compares to competitors and industry peers.

While Risk officers need to benchmark profiles against competitors within their industry, internal reports and records struggle to show a wider perspective.

If the Risk Officer needs a simple blade to cut through the competitive landscape, the communications team wields a Swiss army knife. Forward-thinking communicators work with a treasure trove of external intelligence, data, and advanced, AI-powered tools that compare, assess, and align brand reputation with top-tier industry players.

For example, the Signal AI 500 is a global reputation ranking of the world’s most talked-about companies spanning over 20 industries. The ranking quantifies the aggregate impact of all company actions and communications and delivers an AI-powered reputation benchmark.

Sharing a single source of truth 

A successful risk management framework should scale horizontally and vertically across different business functions. Most often, the issue for large corporations doesn’t lie in a lack of collaborative effort. What’s missing is a single source of truth for team-wide reporting and internal communications, especially to share with key stakeholders. 

Visual analogy of the combined power of external intelligence for risk management using air traffic controller and pilot example

Corporate Communications teams are like air traffic controllers. They surveil the skies using powerful radar tools and proactive insights to see what’s coming up ahead, whether threats or opportunities. They work to give the pilots a safe path forward, monitoring turbulence and other planes crossing their path.

Risk teams are the pilots responsible for landing the plane safely and managing known risks. They must be aware of all dangers in their path to assess and act accordingly.

Imagine that plane crew operating with different radars. Despite their shared objectives, Communications and Risks teams often use various tools and data, leading to fragmented efforts. The more risk management spreads across teams, the harder it becomes to monitor and mitigate high-priority risks.

Communications, Strategy, and Risk should be a collaborative effort, a team that leverages the power of the same set of tools. This would break down silos, enhance collaboration, and streamline the enterprise risk management process, ensuring that both teams align in their efforts to protect the company. 

External intelligence tools are the unlock to better tracking, identification, and surveillance of key risk events.

The Combined Power of an External Intelligence Tool for Enterprise Risk Management

A microscope and a telescope are equally powerful tools, yet they focus in opposite directions: a drill-down and a zoom-out. AI-powered external intelligence tools combine the power of both, bridging this gap. 

The combined strengths of the enterprise risk management and communications teams could be where internal expertise meets broader brand perception and external insights. The power of both perspectives could enable a more robust, data-driven risk management workflow.

AI-powered external intelligence tools can scan the entire media landscape by crunching billions of data points in real-time. They help detect anomalies and deviations in a company’s business environment and identify them as emerging issues or behavioral trends impacting business continuity. At the same time, they can drill down into specific topics or risk factors for deeper analysis. 

Use Case: Retail company facing potential supply chain disruptions

For the Corporate Communications Team:

The Communications team can use external intelligence and media monitoring tools to identify early signals of unrest in a key supplier’s region. They can monitor real-time sentiment around their brand on social media and news outlets, flagging negative customer feedback on a new product launch. This proactive approach allows them to quickly respond with a strategic communications plan, mitigating reputational damage and maintaining customer trust.

For the Enterprise Risk Team:

A risk professional at the same retail company can use external intelligence tools to monitor emerging risks like supply chain disruptions, supplier issues, or competitive threats. If there’s sudden news about a major supplier facing legal issues or strikes, the tool provides early warnings and detailed analysis. The risk team can then assess the impact on their supply chain, develop contingency plans, and coordinate with the communications team to manage public perception.

By leveraging data through external intelligence tools, risk and communications teams can align to make better business decisions, elevate strategies, and more proactively manage business risk.

Where Signal can augment your enterprise risk management

At Signal AI, we offer reputation and risk intelligence tools to empower business leaders to navigate risks and manage threats.

We aggregate the world’s data with cutting-edge AI, uncover reliable signals, and deliver intuitive insights that drive smarter decisions. We process the world’s social platforms, analyze premium news content, and crawl the dark web across 170 markets. Our AI-powered engine is trained in 70+ risk indicators across 20 risk categories. Learn more about our risk intelligence solutions here.

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