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Volume 32, Issue 3

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In our world of business resilience, we are often so focused on planning for response and recovery we may not take the time to look at global risks on our planning horizon. Consideration should be given to the effects of globalization on our collective business resilience planning efforts. Globalization is not just about the interlocking of the world’s economies, it’s also about other risks that cross borders. Gone are the days when we simply planned for our neighbor making us a victim of collateral damage. Any organization can become collateral damage as a result of global threats.

What are some of the effects of globalization on business resilience? Consider global risks related to physical security, the environment, health, transportation, information security, and communications for starters. A local or regional risk can have far-reaching impacts because of globalization. Is your organization at risk when considering the global horizon risks?

Many experts believe global warming and climate change is the most critical risk to international security. They believe future climate changes will continue to further global warming and sea levels to rise. This has led to an increase in extreme weather events. Many areas that may be affected are unprepared for these extreme weather events.

Is it possible you might need to investigate what climate change adaptation projects are being addressed in your part of the world now? Is your government working to build a resilient community? Will it impact your response and recovery efforts? Since climate change and disaster risk mitigation are being tackled piecemeal on a global basis, what is being done in your location(s)?

The most obvious global security risk that comes to mind is terrorism. Terrorists communicate easier and travel around because of the direct impacts of globalization. The reality is that terrorism can root itself just about anywhere with advances in the 24x7 inter-connected economies and using communications and advances in technology. The exchange of technology has allowed specifically the financing of security threats such as terrorism.

In addition, technology advances have offered better ways for organized crime, political terrorists, drug smugglers, and others to further their agendas. The power of the Internet, which we rely heavily and technology’s power to communicate around the world in a split, also makes those who rely on it a target. No one likes to think they are vulnerable to information security breaches and have operations impacted. However, as long as globalization of economies continues and the world is interconnected through technologies, the threat of cyber crime will only increase.

What’s a practitioner to do now? Consider what used to be in the scope of responsibility of the business continuity practitioner 20 years ago compared to today. How have you integrated your efforts with your information security team to address global risks?

Environmental issues such as disease and sickness cannot be ignored in the planning process. Deadly pandemics can spread quickly by transportation modes; there is increased human mobility and interaction around the world.

As global security risks have increased related to climate change, so has the impact of natural and man-made disasters. There is much data surrounding natural disasters to show the increase is definitely on the rise. As for a man-made disaster, one need not look further than the most recent economic crisis started by developed economies that used unprecedented scales of debt and leverage. The economic crisis has highlighted that the nature of security and its recovery is truly global.

Globalization focuses on economics and security – the two components seem to be intrinsically tied forever. On a global level, we are all held hostage to these unpredictable risks and impacts. The consequences far outweigh the benefits for governments and organizations to share information, governance, and resources. Globalization impacts are intrinsically tied to the building of resilient businesses and communities.

Jean Rowe is currently a member of the business resilience office for Verisign Inc. in Reston, Va. Prior to joining Verisign, she managed the global business continuity programs for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C.

Hattan Shami is currently a Ph.D. candidate in global affairs focusing on global finance at Rutgers University. His past experience includes administration and finance secretary at The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C., and credit risk manager at The National Commercial Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.