The big question in these unsettled and difficult times we live, is related to the degree of uncertainty we experience about the future, the main element contemplated in the definitions of risk.

The pandemic has left humanity with some degree of insecurity and a recurrent lack of analyzed credibility, plans, and derived actions. This includes governments as well as organizations. There are great uncertainties that affect people’s expectations and confidence in the future.

The behavior of the world economy, current health situation, diversity of conflicts between nations, polarizations, and internal political crises of each country, have added to the increase in cyberattacks and the need for adoption and adaptation of technological evolution. This has impacted the vulnerability and perception of security many countries, companies, and homes. Likewise, the impact of climate change has generated enormous exposure to known and recurring threats, but even new and emerging risks.

New Perspectives of Risk Management

As part of a preponderant factor, repeatedly considered in the formulation of institutional projections, are the forecast and classifications of threats and risks which are predicted at the beginning of each year. The diversity of classifications currently available, based on expert surveys, offer an adequate guide to consider within risk assessments. Below is a non-prioritized list, supported from the perspective of various recognized bibliographic sources, on the top of the risks for 2022:

  1. Cyber security and data security
  2. Compliance and regulatory change
  3. Digitization, new technologies, and artificial intelligence
  4. Technological interruptions and/or communications failures
  5. Economic recession and macroeconomic uncertainty
  6. Financial, capital, and liquidity risks
  7. Terrorism in all its forms, including state terrorism
  8. Social disorders, civil unrest, and crime
  9. Management of human capital and specialized talent
  10. Disaster and crisis response
  11. Geopolitics, international political conflicts, and internal polarization
  12. Severe interruption in supply chains, quality, capacities and permanence of suppliers and subcontracting
  13. Risks related to effective corporate governance
  14. Communications and reputation management
  15. Culture and corporate and civil society awareness
  16. Corruption, bribery, fraud, and other crimes
  17. Climate change, destruction of natural ecosystems and environmental sustainability
  18. Natural disasters, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts
  19. Physical and mental health of employees and their safety at work
  20. Mergers and acquisitions of businesses and companies
  21. Loss of operating license due to breaches
  22. Pandemic, strain variations and new types of pandemics

Within the framework of this unprecedented reality, the new trends incorporate a review of risk management methodologies, considering new and emerging risks more exhaustively. Greater relevance is given to those which, regardless of their probability of occurrence, could have a significant impact on the future of the organization.

As alternative solutions to the mentioned conditions, there are programs and initiatives related to organizational resilience and business continuity which allow an outstanding preparation. It also allows more effective actions about the management of major interruptions, chaos and crisis situations, derived from the materialization of risks associated with the aforementioned factors.

Widening the Spectrum and Disciplines Related to Organizational Resilience

In addition to the disciplines that are considered part of resilience management, there are:

  • Risk management
  • Business continuity
  • Technological recovery
  • Crisis management
  • Emergency management

There are other areas related to resilience that must be addressed and appropriate for better coverage, providing a broader perspective, which is at the forefront with technological evolutions and new global realities, such as:

  • Organizational culture and human talent management
  • Financial health and viability in the medium and long term
  • Digital transformation and new information technologies
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Change management and adaptive capacity
  • Sustainability
  • Physical security
  • Compliance and audit
  • Information security and cybersecurity
  • Safety and health at work
  • Geodata, geopolitics and georeferenced spatial information
  • Supply chain management

Each discipline contributes to global resilience and reduced vulnerability. However, each individual system is part of the integral system that allows increasing capacities to positively face and overcome adverse events which affect the organization. These events often take advantage of the new situation and take advantage of its opportunities.

New Trends in Organizational Resilience and Business Continuity

New realities determine the need to evolve in the face of the implementation of reference frameworks, the adoption of modern methodologies, the intensive use of applied technologies, and tools to respond effectively in a timely manner to existing commitments. The new challenges of today are now part of the work within the disciplines of OR and BC.

1. Modernization of methodologies, tools in the provision of resilience and business continuity services.

A relevant factor in resilience trends is the use of new technologies as their own tools in the development of resilience programs, the use of Big Data, analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. These methods are used to anticipate and identify trends or prevent situations that may generate an interruption, occurrences of fraud, emergency, or crisis.

Timely identifications and diagnosis determine:

  • Early and better supported decision-making
  • Definition and execution of strategic business actions that facilitate survival
  • Taking advantage of new opportunities, which are generated in a changing environment

2. Process automation

It is crucial to implement process automation, from the following two perspectives:

  • The automation of recovery processes through the use of technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), facilitate automation in the application of business continuity solutions, together with the automation of steps in technological disaster recovery, to allow optimization of processes and the generation of significant savings in response, recovery, and restoration times.
  • Automation of consulting and advisory processes in business continuity. Tasks that are carried out manually in the implementation and maintenance of business continuity management systems that can be carried out in a faster and more agile way, with the use of technological tools and artifacts that facilitate diagnoses and issuance of reports. In the same view, the generation of predefined response actions and attention to real events, supported by knowledge bases and machine learning.

3. New technologies in the technological recovery of businesses

In disaster recovery strategies, the adoption of hybrid technology solutions for backup environments such as cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud will prevail. More innovative alternatives like cloud and edge computing should be also considered.

Hyper convergence solutions are increasingly used and constitute alternatives in increasing use for infrastructure requirements in the disaster recovery plan (DRP).

Another trend is the increasing use of “containerization” technologies in optimizing the use of infrastructure, hardware, and software solutions and services in the cloud.

New technologies support and facilitate the processes of failover and fail back in DRP tests in the event of real technological interruptions are the developments of data replication, storage, balancing between on-premises data centers, and/or between solutions of main cloud (s) and alternate environment.

An important current that supports and facilitates the failover and fail back processes in DRP tests in the event of real technological interruptions are the developments of balancing between data centers and main or backup cloud solutions.

In short, there are a number of technological innovations that facilitate, optimize the recovery and restoration of technological environments at relatively lower costs, which must be considered in the definitions of strategies for technological continuity.

4. Agility

The adoption of agile technologies is a noticeable trend in the implementation of OR and BC programs, plans and projects. The continuity of an organization depends to a large extent on how agile and adaptive its developments are in the face of changes, which occur with increasing frequency, derived from the environment and internal evolution of the organizations.

Agility allows results which generate value with better opportunity and adequate risk management during developments. In addition, due to its philosophy and principles, the staff that participates is self-managed and motivated with greater commitment to obtaining results.

5. Improvement of the competencies, skills, and capacities of organizational resilience leaders

New challenges are imposed for resilience leaders: Improving applied knowledge and increasing skills in new digital technologies, agility, cybersecurity, strategic thinking, innovation, and change management among others.

It is necessary not only to have the appropriate competencies to perform the required job function, but also to demonstrate soft skills like personal resilience, stress management, and decision-making in chaotic crisis situations for a heterogeneous team environment.

BC and OR experts may work from home or other remote locations. To do this, they will continue to use video conferencing applications, VoIP, unified communications, collaboration tools, and specialized artifacts that allow optimal results in shorter times and a better customer experience.

They must have connectivity and the necessary security consistent with the exercise of their profession since it deals with sensitive, confidential corporate information of collaborators, clients, and suppliers.

Conclusion

Significant changes in the new world panorama, accelerated digital transformation, political conflicts, the economy, as well as all externalities and internal difficulties of organizations demand further development and evolution of the business continuity, disaster recovery, and organizational resilience.

Although the pandemic situation allowed the evaluation and verification of the effectiveness of programs and continuity plans, it became clear the traditional perspective is not enough to guarantee the survival of every organization. Aside from updating programs and plan availability, it is necessary to contemplate bigger efforts and new approaches or perspectives in organizational resilience.

Now, it is required to venture into new trends which facilitate risk reduction, predictions, and diagnosis in a much more anticipated way. The early generation of alerts and agile formulation of immediate actions are all based on new technologies.

Those who work in these fields must transform themselves quickly and creatively to stay competitive, facing the challenges imposed by the needs of organizations in a constantly changing environment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

German Vargas Pedroza

German Vargas Pedroza MBCP, CORS, BMMM Assessor, is currently the leader of corporate risk management at Claro Colombia. He has more than 20 years of business continuity, risk management, and compliance experience across several organizations. He is the vice president and founder of Continuam Colombia. He writes papers for Latin American newspapers and magazines specialized in technology, management, risk, and cybersecurity.

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