Myths vs. Realities: Suggested Solutions for Companies Looking for Private Intel/Geopolitical Risk Support

In previous posts, I’ve outlined some of the myths that are prevalent in the field of geopolitical risk analysis. Many of these myths grew out of a fundamental misunderstanding of what geopolitical risk is, who is exposed to it, who can mitigate it, and why it matters when making decisions. Now comes the hard part- solving some of the problems and improving the value that geopolitical risk consultants can provide to clients. 

I’ve heard from many readers who’ve shared feedback about their experiences interacting with geopolitical risk and private intelligence firms. Most of the complaints can be grouped into several key issues. Many of you mentioned high volumes of irrelevant information, which provide little value and that many people simply don’t even have the time or desire to read. Others explained that geopolitical risk consultants provided only very high-level information that did not include details applicable to client needs. Finally, some of you mentioned that internal teams tasked with providing support aren’t adequately trained to fulfill their mission. In this post, I’m going to offer a couple of solutions for companies looking for more effective private intel/geopolitical risk support. If you’re interested in applying them to your business, I’m always happy to consult.  

#1: On-Demand Consultants

We’re all familiar with the concept of video on demand; and consulting on demand works much the same way. If a company doesn’t need constant monitoring and analysis, a cost-effective option is to find an experienced geopolitical risk consultant who can provide bespoke analysis only when it’s needed. I’ve had several clients who’ve benefitted from this type of relationship, because it lets a company’s leadership learn what type of support is needed, desired or unnecessary, without committing to an expensive retainer or binding contract. This is particularly useful for smaller companies that are exploring different possibilities or considering expansion, and don’t already have ongoing exposure to high levels of risk. Once such firms have identified what is and isn’t valuable, or exposure to risk increases, they can move on to another option.  

#2: Combination of subscription and an internal Global Threat Analyst

Some companies may benefit from a subscription to an intelligence service that provides daily or overnight briefs with international developments, along with an internal employee designated as a global threat analyst. This person’s mission is to monitor how those developments may or may not affect their operations. For example, an overnight brief may alert the analyst to an imminent strike in a port, which the analyst can then examine to see if it may affect the company’s operations. Or, after hearing about an earthquake in a particular city, the analyst can determine if the resulting damage may affect a company representative’s ability to meet with government officials. This is ideal for smaller firms with sporadic exposure to risk, or ongoing exposure in one sector.   

#3: Internal Private Intelligence/Geopolitical Risk Teams

For many clients, particularly smaller companies or startups with operations in several countries, an internal private intelligence and geopolitical risk team may be the most useful, and likely most cost effective, option. By having an experienced geopolitical risk consultant provide the training, a company can quickly develop a two or three person team to monitor, analyze and synthesize targeted intelligence. A company can have this team focus on just the countries, regions or industries that matter, potentially identifying and mitigating risks or exploiting opportunities much faster than via an outsourced capability. This is the best option for firms with limited exposure in just a few countries and a need for ongoing monitoring of certain categories of risk in those areas.

For those of you who need to outsource your capabilities for a variety of reasons, stay tuned for future posts, where I’ll help you identify the capabilities you should look for, how to interpret the jargon you’ll hear, and how to build a constructive relationship with a geopolitical risk firm that will avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve covered in previous posts. If you’re interested in learning more about the ideas outlined above, send me an email: milenarodban(at)gmail(dot)com.