Recent events in Turkey have demonstrated three things: a split military which does not have enough control to take the country, a president that does not have enough control to prevent a coup, and a world which does not have enough control to understand and interpret the volumes of ‘fact’ and ‘opinion’ created by such a shock.
Our social media analytics and remote detection technologies allowed us to monitor these events so closely it almost made us uncomfortable – pushing this out to clients is the easy part. But what good does this do without the context of how our clients might use it?
Telling the difference between fact, fiction, and the vast data in between is not just a problem for us – a changed ‘information landscape’ in which expertise and objective truth is judged to be secondary has become a key trend in 2016, exemplified by the recent US presidential primaries and the debate over ‘Brexit’ in the UK. Recent events centred on Istanbul and Ankara have shown that this could be having an effect on traditional power structures – how can anyone have semblance of control without a firm understanding of what is really happening and what is not?
We think we will begin to see this more and more – events which are born through a misunderstanding of the overall political environment, a fate suffered by both Turkish loyalists and rebel factions, and most importantly events which are now shaped through a world which is constantly awake and watching events live through a microscope. The key question for us is how do we provide a valuable service in making sense of the noise.
Our recent assessments of events in Turkey are based on what we see in front of us – raw video and imagery that we can analyse and extrapolate to come up with an outcome. But what then? It has also showed us that the dynamic around ‘threat intelligence’ must change. Without a detailed understanding of our clients and their operations such generic information is worthless, and only by applying it to our clients’ real world problems can it go from being useful information to actionable intelligence. Understanding the difference is key.
We’re proud to say that our monitoring supported clients during this difficult period and had a tangible effect on decision-making – but as many around the world are realising, when it comes to the new information landscape, we will have to be committed in reframing the way we use and understand information. You should be too.