Business continuity: nobody's prepared

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ITWeb Business Continuity 2012

At the inaugural ITWeb Business Continuity Conference, delegates will learn how to assess risk, prepare for likely eventualities, implement a business continuity plan and ensure timeous recovery. Key experts will discuss solutions to building continuity into every layer of your business. This will enable your organisation to weather any challenges it faces, and to have a competitive advantage as a result of a robust risk management capability. Click here for more information.

When it comes to business continuity, we had all the answers. But now the questions have changed.

So says Brian Henry of the local forum of the international Business Continuity Institute.

“The world has changed dramatically in the past four years. Globalisation and international interdependencies mean the threat landscape is significantly different from what it was five years ago. Business needs to rethink its business continuity strategies accordingly,” he says.

“The most interesting development is that globalisation has happened so completely in recent years that total interdependencies between companies and countries means we must be very wary of how we rely on others.”

Henry says international companies are now starting to revise their business continuity strategies in line with the changed business environment, but that South African businesses are falling behind.

Henry notes that, traditionally, business continuity plans focused largely on environmental disasters in one's own region.

“It's not about an earthquake in your backyard anymore,” he says. “Now, with global supply chains and interdependencies, what happens across the world can prove disastrous for your business. You only have to look at the global impact of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan to see how geographically distant events can impact business unexpectedly.”

Instead of just focusing on disaster recovery, businesses now need to consider their global supply chain resilience and the socio-political environments that could impact their businesses. They need to consider the new technologies at play, the rise of terrorism and the threat of cyber crime, among others.

The cloud, for example, may be a business enabler, but it also brings with it a series of risks and potential pitfalls that businesses may not have considered. “You need to consider what the loss of a trading licence due to regulatory changes abroad could do to your business; or what the impact could be of an oil spill across the world. Now, it's about a lot more than moving staff in the event of an environmental disaster. It's also about market share, reputation management and providing the same levels of service in the face of duress.”

Henry says it's time for revised thinking about business continuity. “Now, business continuity is a risk mitigation issue - it is a strategic issue to be addressed in the boardroom.”

He notes that companies now need to be more aware of all the forces at play in all the regions that impact on their businesses.

“The new preparedness means studying world trends and indicators, and looking more closely at the socio-political environment you work in. You need to be aware of how the activities of government, business, organised crime and terrorism may impact your business - each of these are driven and sustained by financial and economic interests, and when these interests overlap, you have a problem. You need to be vigilant, and apply business continuity principles and thinking to areas where they have not been applied before.”

Henry will address the upcoming ITWeb Business Continuity 2012 conference, at the Forum in Bryanston, on 13 and 14 November. For more information about this event, click here.

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