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IT business continuity in a changing landscape

Traditionally, business continuity management (BCM) has only considered risk analysis and management; but according to Forbes it should also include innovative strategies to meet the changing needs of customers and the environment

Threats come in all forms and sizes. We have generally built our business continuity plans on the traditional predictable and quantifiable disasters such as fires, hurricanes, floods, power failures and earthquakes. Today’s risk landscape has changed, however, and is now abstruse and nebulous. How, then, do companies even begin to quantify:

  • Cybercrime, terrorism and denial of service (DoS) attacks
  • Wireless device security loopholes
  • Global supply chain throughput velocity and business partner connectivity concerns
  • Public cloud infrastructure risks
  • Human capital dependencies.

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As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, change is the only constant. If the risk landscape has changed, then our BCM approach should change to reflect the new risks and the impact in various areas. Regardless of what they are, where they strike or when they occur, your response to the crises they create can determine your organization’s very survival.

Review your current model

Companies are seeking innovative ways to proactively meet customer business demands. Marketing has shifted to more micro-personalized outreach; more software development projects have embraced the incremental agile approach, leaving behind sequential waterfall methodologies. Should BCM not do the same?

For IT BCM, instead of focusing only on protection of people, assets, information and revenue, step outside that traditional risk-averse model and take a proactive approach that extends across the entire business. An approach such as this recognizes the ultimate goal of business resilience. Resiliency seeks the enhancement and protection of human resources, current revenue streams and future revenue growth potential by allowing business and operational decisions to be informed by advanced risk intelligence and proactive business continuity awareness, says Forbes.

New BCM approach

• Adopt a holistic approach: Truly serving the needs of a business requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of its objectives, operating environment and customer base. To achieve this requires a closer relationship not just with the business but with its customer as well.

• Challenge the status quo: Along with a greater understanding of the business’s needs should be a willingness to think outside of the traditional sandbox and seek to tie your BCM objectives more closely to those of the business.

• Be continuously dynamic and robust: As new opportunities and threats appear on the horizon, BCM should be triggered well in advance to consider their potential impact. In other words, BCM should NOT be an afterthought but a part of the strategic planning and decision-making process.

• Plan for the unexpected: A BCM approach should incorporate not just well-established responses to predictable threats, but also elements of flexibility to handle those not-so-obvious implications that may come to bear.

• Promote collaboration and communication: Strengthen and infuse communication into the BCM process as well as leverage the knowledge and experience of all stakeholders to obtain a comprehensive picture of what is at stake. Improved management of business continuity requires that we challenge the status quo and are willing to revisit, review and revitalize the existing framework with a view to adopting a more holistic approach. Enhanced communication, process reengineering and inclusiveness rank high among the priorities as BCM objectives are realigned with those of the business, all in order to derive maximum benefit for all stakeholders, including the often neglected consumer.