Fear has always been a powerful instrument in persuading people to act in ways they would never consider in a more calm state of mind. When it comes to peddling solutions to corporations, fear can pay off handsomely for the fear mongers, and there’s plenty of fear being whipped up by those monitoring providers pitching their “sentiment-monitoring” services to you as an allegedly indispensable component of any issue-management service. The standard line goes something like this:
“Our extraordinarily intelligent software will spot issues before they emerge in ‘real time’– you’ll never, ever be blindsided by that next PR challenge lurking in the near future!” We have already dealt with the question of “intelligent software” – if anything, it’s illiterate, imprecise and no better than a pigeon maybe smart enough to distinguish a square from a circle, but certainly not the character you’d put in charge of guarding your corporate reputation. But what about this ‘real-time’ line of reasoning? Well frankly speaking, there’s not much reasoning here either; just more fluff. Put bluntly, if you have an intelligent analyst, then all you need in addition is Google Alerts — together they’ll outperform the poor 30% accuracy rate of commercial software by a hefty margin any time!
To spot an issue for a client, you first have to know something about that client. As a matter of fact, the analyst in charge should have spent considerable time learning about the client’s business, its customers and general stakeholders. It’s simple – how can you provide any reasonable risk assessment if you don’t know what constitutes a risk in a given context? Let’s say that all of a sudden there’s an outbreak of conversations that goes something like this
“I think I will wait until next year to buy product X”.
Those monitoring providers would most likely classify this as a positive comment. After all, someone is expressing their intention to buy. But let’s add this into the equation: product X incurs terribly high inventory costs because of the way it has to be stored. Oops! So now, we’re actually looking at a serious issue in the making. But how would you know this if you really had no or only very little knowledge about the client’s business? That’s where we make all the difference:
Remember the hysteria surrounding Y2K? Few people really understood the scope of the problem but everyone was talking about it. The folks who talked the most were those self-proclaimed experts selling their survival kits and “special expertise” – infrastructure was going to go up in flames and civilization as we know it was going to end. Don’t be taken for another ride. If it’s a level-headed and intelligent issue management service you are looking for, then give us a call.