The world is evolving and almost all communication that occurs during tomorrow’s disruptive event is going to be digital. Despite this, technology does not replace decision making. Instead it enables those in a crisis with major time pressures to operate more effectively and reach better outcomes. The Red Cross, in their World Disasters Report, stated when a disaster strikes, access to information is “just as important as food and water”. With the aid of advanced technology, key stakeholders can take better control of a crisis by communicating relevant and critical information in real-time.
In today’s working environment, it is rare to have all the key people required in one place at one time. Crisis communication technology ensures stakeholders can connect, inform and ultimately conquer the crisis collaboratively from any location. Technology not only brings people together, it also forms collective information to effectively build up a bigger picture of the crisis. This ensures everyone is working off the same facts, as the system creates a sole source of truth. This ultimately helps employees feel prepared to handle the numerous communication needs that emerge during a disruption.
Working under extreme pressure can make it difficult to think rationally, which makes it difficult to assess just how critical a disruption is. Is it just an incident or is it a crisis? Technology ensures more efficient decision making by providing access to a set of tools that are objective, rather than subjective, and provides a more structured activation and escalation process. Once a crisis is declared, technology removes the time sensitive process of manually calling and/or texting everyone to see if they are available. Crisis management software allows users to instantly activate crisis teams via mass instant SMS and email messaging from the system. The software systematically works through the logistics behind the scenes allowing people to focus their efforts on other vital tasks.
As communication plans are often predefined in the system this increases the speed and efficiency as users can access the relevant templates. This alleviates the pressure of having to think what to say and who the appropriate recipients are, as preconfigured messages can be sent at the touch of a button. Pre-defined response teams ensure everyone knows their role and what they need to do based on the preconfigured action plans. Using a collaborative crisis tool as a reference point helps key stakeholders stay on track of progress by providing access to real-time updates as the disruption unfolds.
Unlike traditional plans that can be inaccessible during a physical incident or a cyber-attack, digital plans are often hosted securely off-site. This ensures critical information is always accessible from anywhere and on any device, with the content remaining unaffected by any disruption to the organisation’s network.
However, as great as technology is, the best crisis response begins before a disruption occurs. Switching to digital crisis management tools allows organisations to be proactive, not just reactive. Plans can be preconfigured in the system, which can be used to create realistic training sessions and scenario exercises, so if a crisis happens teams feel more confident in their resilience capabilities. As crisis management software keeps a record of event data, this can be used during post-crisis training and debriefing. The system retains accurate information on what was done and what decisions were made, ensuring teams can learn and improve for next time. Often an afterthought in a crisis, the Post Incident Review (PIR) is being created in the background as the crisis unfolds. Technology won’t make people better crisis managers but it will make them more effective at managing a crisis.