Why business resilience matters in times of crisis (and beyond)
When it comes to major business disruption, you need to be proactive as well as reactive
In times of intense and unpredictable change, the matter of business resilience will inevitably be front-and-centre in the consciousness of C-suite decision makers in every organisation. As lockdown brings into question the durability of so many things we took for granted and makes us consider what else the future has in store, you may be left wondering how to ensure the survival and success of your businesses in the face of uncertainty.
But business resilience is more than the old concept of ‘crisis management’, nor is it only something to think about after an abrupt change in circumstances. So let’s explore the meaning of business resilience and why it is vital to an organisation’s continuous thinking in times of success as well as stress.
What is business resilience?
The concept of business resilience developed out of the longstanding ideas of crisis management and business continuity, and involves how prepared an organisation is for sudden changes from cyber attacks to earthquakes and, of course, global pandemics – as well as its adaptability in the face of disruption.
Older crisis management and business continuity strategies are more specifically related to unexpected and dramatic incidents – and how a business is able maintain operations during these periods – but tend to be inflexible and even uncoordinated.
Business resilience, on the other hand, is a more holistic strategic risk management approach. It involves developing a culture tailored to your specific organisation in which you prepare for a range of contingencies and their consequences via a series of interlocking rather than siloed systems, and ways to adapt and even thrive in these situations and the altered circumstances that follow. It’s about being not just reactive, but proactive.
As organisations and their IT and operational infrastructure evolve and grow in complexity, they can become more vulnerable to disruption, as well as making it harder to identify risks developing from within your own systems. A comprehensive resiliency program offers an adaptable system that can respond, mitigate and even course-correct to avoid the fallout of unexpected events before they occur.
Why business resilience is important now
The COVID-19 outbreak represents a crisis of almost unprecedented scope and disruption. No organisation has escaped the impact of lockdown, whether its business is impacted directly or because it’s entire workforce is now expected to work from home.
Thanks to the rise of agile working practices, many businesses are in a better position to adapt than they would have been only a few years earlier. But any gaps in their remote working setup will have become quickly apparent, and even companies used to having employees working from home may have found themselves rushing to buy extra laptops and equipment to ensure that their entire workforce was suitably outfitted now that their premises are closed. Cloud collaboration tools have also experienced a huge uptick as organisations have realised that email alone isn’t an adequate communication tool for an entirely remote workforce.
Recalibrating threat models based on remote working is also key at this time, as they can end up working against you. If your existing plans revolve around protecting office-based IT equipment and the idea that connections originating outside the office are suspicious, that's likely to be incompatible with the new home-working paradigm.
The other issues raised by the pandemic are too many to count, from how to give your staff access to systems and data, to developing whole new ways of interacting with customers, clients and third-party service providers.
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Cyber crime is also on the rise during lockdown. Banks have reported a huge upswing in attacks, and at the highest end of the scale, the World Health Organization has experienced an incredible fivefold increase in cyber attacks against its staff. At a time when the majority of your staff are working online, the threat of and vulnerability to these attacks is magnified further. An investment in resilience might involve taking advantage of RSA’s offerings like SecurID Suite, which uses multi-factor authentication, identity governance and lifecycle controls to give you full visibility and control over who is accessing your systems.
During this period, it’s essential to maintain and secure the systems that allow communication, access and productivity among a physically scattered workforce. Your business’ resilience and future prosperity is counting on it. Fortunately, it’s never too late to bolster your resiliency and take steps to confront the issues at hand.
Why business resilience is always important
A human inclination after a crisis is to focus all our efforts into preventing a similar situation from arising again. But this is often at the cost of preparing for the many other issues we could face in the future. You should certainly apply the lessons learned in lockdown to your operations. But while some businesses may find themselves taking a financial hit due to the lockdown, budgeting for business resilience investment across the board will remain vital. It pays to make sure your business is as well protected from as many threats as possible.
Cybersecurity and digital risk management organisations like RSA offer business resiliency services that help you to identify the processes that are most essential to your organisation. For instance, RSA offers a centralised business process and IT system repository to help your company document these critical dependencies and develop a business impact analysis. From there, you can begin to put recovery plans and other resiliency measures in place that are specifically tailored to your business and its needs – ones that anticipate potential threats and can be adapted in line with changes to your organisation and the wider business context.
Investing in the services of a business resilience expert is an important way of futureproofing your organisation. At this time, we are reminded more than ever about the uncertainty of the world. Companies like RSA can offer a suite of services to bolster your resilience, and in times of great disruption can advise you on the best ways of keeping your organisation secure and prosperous.
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