How Business Continuity is Changing

This week I’m speaking at Sapphire’s excellent NISC8 Conference in St. Andrews on “The Art of Business Continuity Management”. It’s a subject close to my heart as I’ve been an active practitioner for the last two decades. I’ve also seen it change enormously. It used to be called Disaster Recovery Planning until business managers hijacked the subject. I recall that happening at the start of the nineties. Visiting an overseas Shell operating company, I explained to their Managing Director the importance of continuity planning for IT services. He told me to forget IT and focus on the oil and gas evacuation process. It was a much higher priority for him. So for the next ten years I had the pleasure of exploring the fascinating world of oil wells, pipelines and tankers.

I thought it was pretty challenging in those days to coordinate a single management response across a complex value chain in a large organization. But things are even tougher today. Everything is becoming virtualized. Global supply chains, storage area networks, grid computing, web services and extended-enterprise working have transformed the business operating environment. You can’t draw a line around processes any more. And they’re highly volatile. As much as you try to nail them down, they keep changing.

So what’s the bst approach to modern Business Continuity Management? In my view the answer is simple, though far from straightforward. The trick is to apply the same transformation to the solution that we’re experiencing in the problem space. We need to virtualize the management process, building virtual response team structures, virtual crisis rooms and flexible response processes.

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