If you were watching GameStop (among others) thinking that your organization would not be victim to groups of organizers, you may want to think again. This is not a one-off incident. Earlier this summer, K-pop fans mobilized via TikTok to claim tickets to a Trump campaign rally they had no intention of attending to artificially boost attendance projections and embarrass the President and campaign organizers. One of the most powerful aspects of this provocative behavior, coming mostly from online-motivated groups, is how unpredictable it is, and GameStop, BlackBerry, and AMC were simply tools to be used in this movement. These types of community-led provocative events are unlikely to be limited to one type of business or industry; silver prices rose 11% as traders moved from GameStop to the commodity, which could have downstream impacts on sourcing and supply chains. Many industries and systems are vulnerable to this type of activity. So what should a tech leader do?

  • Do not try to predict the future … These groups’ very success depends on the idiosyncratic nature of their activities; they are meant to evade the traditional rules of the market and typical behaviors. Expending large amounts of effort trying to predict how they might disrupt your business in specific ways and putting in systemic solutions will be costly and may not even mitigate the risk.
  • … but try to prepare for the future. Work with your teams and business partners to identify which types of events might impact your organization, whether it may be on transactions, supply chains, or other areas of risk in your business process where external parties may be able to exert pressure. Use this to guide how you respond to internet-based insurgencies, including where your organization focuses its attention and how you identify and communicate risks with stakeholders across the business.
  • Assess the effectiveness of controls for AI-driven transactions. Unpredictable behavior is the hallmark of these types of actions, making it more difficult for AI to respond and act accordingly, particularly if the actions are designed to deliberately “trick” AI systems in order to create more chaos. Determine what AI rules are in place to make transactions, if there are controls in place to stop activities, when those controls are enforced, and how the AI can be overruled in the event of some sort of manipulative activity. Work with your business partners who have introduced AI into their products and leverage them to ensure that the impact of market events can be handled. Also look to add compensating controls in the event the current controls fail.
  • Determine what alerting is in place, if any, for unusual activities. Many products will have the ability to monitor once certain thresholds of activities are breached. Work with product owners and business partners to assess what activities should be monitored and what thresholds should be put in place for both positive and negative events. Determine what alerting is in place already and where you may need to put in place additional controls or monitoring. Put in place a plan of action and escalation that is clearly communicated when alert thresholds are breached so that the teams in charge of managing products are aware of what to do. Ensure that marketing teams are already monitoring for trending events, and consider expanding the types of sites and apps that are being monitored to include some of the less mainstream sites.
  • Put a plan in place. Make sure that your organization has a clear contingency and escalation plan in place in the event of an unusual event occurring, with a clear communication plan, accountabilities clearly laid out, and timelines, thresholds, and decision points defined. If your organization is involved in a rapidly moving scenario with unpredictable forces, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to figure out who needs to be on the conference call.

The impact of the GameStop trading event across the market and the media has made these crowdsourced events all the more likely to continue to occur in the future. Future fit tech leaders who build adaptive and resilient capabilities into their organizations will be better prepared to mitigate the risk posed to their company by these events.

For more on future fit, look at the following reports: