Timely, relevant information is critical for both business and government decisions. And while gathering and presenting information has never been easier, it is also more difficult in today’s fast paced, information overloaded world. Even with all the tools readily available, many are left with an incomplete picture and lack actionable intelligence to make the right decisions. The fact is that search engines either overload the query or use algorithms to filter and rank results, firewalls divert and stop crucial information flows.

High level decision makers face this challenge every day, and neither you nor your team have the time to figure out what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

This is why many federal agencies and others turn to open source research experts, so they can get the important information they need to make the right decisions.

Open Source Research Draws a Bigger Picture

Too often decisions are made based on established media routines, already vetted sources, or the first page of Google results. Yet this information only scratches the surface. One of the most important things about open source research is how it taps into a wide array of sources to add context about an issue and provide a more complete picture.

Open source research makes data available that is not readily found through other channels. Some of the most common sources we use for our clients include social media, local publications, government and NGO databases, and commercial databases.

The goal is to collect all the relevant information and data points around a certain topic or geographic region and put that into a format that can be reviewed, curated, and presented by subject matter experts to help decision makers get the full picture.

Keeping Up with the Pace of Change

The world seems to be changing faster than ever and often the information you review is outdated by the time it even gets you. Open source research gives you the most current intelligence, keeping up with the pace of change faster than traditional forms of media with visibility into real-time events through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels.

For example, when natural disasters hit, people turn to social media for support and information to post about what they’re experiencing in real time. This, in turn gives minute-by-minute awareness of what’s happening on the ground. Or local media will cover a story and provide that immediate local perspective with background and insight that can’t be gleaned from a national or global news source.

Unlike traditional approaches, open source research provides a more comprehensive understanding of events as they occur.

Expert Analysis Adds Perspective

However, simply having all the information at your fingertips isn’t enough to make open source actionable. In order for open source research to be important enough to use, you need the support of experts who can quickly understand it and distill what’s important.

For example, with social media or local media sources it is important to have experts who read and understand the native languages and can quickly assess what is happening. You need people who know where specific areas are and whether that is a short distance or a long distance away. You need staff who know the culture and can understand how this is going to impact an area or an issue.

The important part is to add a layer of interpretation and context to the raw information collected.

One other component is creating a community that educates, informs, and provides a perspective on the information gathered. For example, in addition to our in-house researchers, Tesla Government has developed a worldwide network of experts ranging from government and academia to NGOs and the private sector. We leverage their in-depth knowledge to gain a broader perspective, using their unique viewpoints to create a picture that’s more nuanced and complete.

The Power of Correlation

You’ve heard the phrase “trust, but verify”?  A huge advantage open source research offers is the ability to correlate findings with other forms of intelligence. Many of our government clients have other intelligence sources they use to assess what’s happening around a topic or in a region.

Open source research helps decision makers correlate the information they have with the information they get through their current information channels. Comparing that information with data from a wide variety of other sources can help confirm or deny that what is reported is, in fact, happening.

Actionable Insight Makes Open Source Research Important

The bottom line is that open source research provides a more comprehensive understanding of what’s happening on the ground or with an issue. The quality and breadth of data helps decision makers ensure they have the complete picture so they can make the best decisions. When open source research becomes an important part of an agency’s knowledge management efforts, we see time and time again how it helps leaders reduce risk and act with confidence.

Are you making decisions based on incomplete information?

Are you missing opportunities to make vital connections? Limiting yourself to the research your already overworked staff can provide? Take advantage of the power of open source research to deliver the context and clarity you need to make the best decisions.