Our world is becoming increasingly complex and uncertain; as we grow ever more connected, organisations and businesses are seeing a rising number of continuously evolving threats. With weaknesses being exploited anywhere within supply chains, partner operations, remote offices, and in cloud services, it is becoming abundantly clear that we are vulnerable in ways of which we are currently unaware.
We now have to be prepared for ‘black swans’; major unpredictable events that can take many forms including cyber-attacks, fires, terrorist attacks, systems failures, regulatory changes, supply chain disruption, or large-scale reputational damage. One such example is the 2017 power outage at British Airways. Allegedly caused by a simple human error, rumoured to be a maintenance contractor that turned off the UPS (uninterruptable power supply), it caused an uncontrolled reboot and shutdown of BA’s systems. Inevitably, this resulted in chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as costing £53m in flight compensation and even more in additional costs (The Independent, 2017).
So, why is business resilience not centre stage in everyone’s thoughts? Maybe this can be explained in large part by the daunting, uncertain nature of the problem. Threats, weaknesses, and therefore risks which may have an impact upon an organisation’s continuity are often unknown and unquantified, leaving us both unprepared and uncertain of the preventative and responsive measures we may need.
However, when considered with the customer in focus, good resilience planning becomes beneficial for the business as a whole. When seen through the lens of customer resilience, namely, prioritising those functions and people most critical to the delivery of services or products to the customer, this can lead to a better understanding of business functions; improving efficiency, and becoming more agile in meeting customers’ needs.
There are many benefits, both obvious and less so, of good business, and therefore customer resilience:
A business that adapts:
Increased awareness of threats, risks, procedures and costs enables an understanding of business functions and processes in depth; mitigating risks and protecting from avoidable costs and reputational damage.
Providing a high level of customer resilience will lead to increased reliability, and demonstrates preparedness and flexibility. This will give a business an edge in the market, and helps it stand out from competitors.
Turn it into a business enabler:
Improving resilience means fostering teamwork and communication across departments and teams, breaking down company silos, increasing efficiency and promoting innovation. Furthermore, it allows for a quicker response to shifts in the regulatory and market landscape, opening up the business to untapped opportunity.
The Waterstons Approach
Make it cultural:
Resilience is a business commitment that cannot be effective without involvement across the organisation; from interns to executive management. Not only are management buy-in and active support essential, as resources and other key needs cannot be allocated and decided without them; but if they’re aware, prepared, and involved, people can be one of the strongest lines of defence.
View risks as opportunities:
Incorporating risk into business strategy can actually enable organisational growth and success. Accurately taking risk into account enables better, more accurate decision-making; allows for faster responses to shifts in customer demand and experiences; and can highlight an organisation as attractively dependable and stable.
Put the customer first:
Focusing resilience strategy and practice around people, processes, and systems that are critical to customers, and the service or product provided to them, can enable a business in improving.
So Where Do I Start?
In 2018, Phoenix Nap found that 96% of businesses with a disaster recovery solution in place were able to fully recover their operations. As new political situations, social movements, and technology shape our world with growing speed, it has become increasingly clear that those who are resilient will be able to adapt and grow. Thus, understanding, evaluating, and responding to risk can actually improve your business; not just in terms of resilience, but at its very core. So, ask yourself, what is critical for your customers, and where do you want your business to grow?