Businesses are facing a period of rapid change with emerging technologies, especially artificial intelligence which will create a fundamental change to the structure of organizations and business resiliency.
Business resiliency will be changing over the next few years and for the foreseeable future; but the future is a vision. For business resiliency, the ultimate goal is a fully resilient environment where things don’t fail and, if they do, they are resolved immediately. This view of the future is fine as we build our technological capabilities, but there are factors involved with each requiring a different response:
Forecasted external factors
These are issues such as bad weather, civil unrest, economic factors, human viruses and other aspects where events are seen unfolding or likely to happen in a given place. In these cases, responses can be planned and contingencies created.
The biggest strength of artificial intelligence is that it is able to analyze data and make decisions with far greater quickness than even the most skilled human professional. In this way, an AI can predict when a disaster might occur, and respond accordingly. By automating business continuity, businesses will be able to respond far more proactively to potential issues than otherwise possible and artificial intelligence can be used to model and test disaster scenarios, as well as identifying weaknesses and pain points in a business’s resiliency strategy.
Things do go wrong, power outage, IT interruption, access to premises. In a resilient future, this issue will have less of an impact. Always on technology, geographical operations/communication, secure home working is just examples of a more resilient future.
By combining artificial intelligence with the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and other automation tools, artificial intelligence will allow administrators to have a complete view of what’s going on in their environment and react accordingly.
Hackers and cyber-attacks, terrorist activities, earthquakes etc. are all unknown events and successful recovery in these cases depends upon issues such as a flexible response, the ability to react to events or chain of events where there is a constantly changing environment.
With new technology making the rounds, people get caught up in the hype and forget that every technology, AI included, has limitations. There will be incidents that a smart software platform cannot predict or mitigate. There will be cyber attacks and challenges that artificial intelligence will be unable to deal with on its own.
Response and resolution
The response will vary according to the event type and we will increasingly move towards forecasting and monitoring rather than waiting for something to happen. The one constant we can be sure of is that there will continue to be both planned and unplanned disruptions and there are some common threads when dealing with these:
- Artificial intelligence will mean that more decisions will be made automatically, without the need for human intervention. At present, people are often the weak link as they have to take in and understand information, balance judgments, make decisions, and then be prepared to change as the event unfolds. In the future, much of this rapid absorption and decision-making process will be made by systems/machines with business continuity teams taking on an overview role.
- Information access will be greatly improved and is about the quality of information (i.e. what and how it is affected, the impact, what the operational implications are etc?) and the means of access (different social and media/channels – mobile devices, cloud etc).
- Core system resilience will continue to improve. The reliance on work area recovery sites will continue to diminish as technology provides different and better ways of dealing with disruptions. Alternative strategies include working at home, working from other offices, and providing service alternatives to clients as recovery is executed providing a more robust process.
- Events will become flexible processes, capable of covering a multitude of sins: the nature of the event will be created as it unfolds – e.g. geography, impact, processes, plans, people, recovery strategies
This move to resilience will also be underpinned by more uniform and planned methodologies when assessing risk and impact as part of the end-to-end business resilience planning process:
What does this mean for plan owners?
Often organizations focus on the big picture when looking at resilience and this is entirely appropriate when considering the corporate approach and development map. But the vast majority of practical application is carried out by plan owners during all phases from development, through maintenance, and into practical plan use at the time of need. This important user base – the owners of plans within their departments or business teams – will start to see changes. These will appear over the next few years as organizations build their resilience capabilities and technology progresses:
- There will be less work in the build phase with less of an intrusion on day-to-day activities
- Plans will be accessible on multiple devices with a single view of the event.
- Test and exercise processes will become less time-consuming, and more automated learning experiences.
- Input will be reduced for recovery processes as automation and machine learning enables and manages the core recovery routines and decisions.
- A wider view of and access to relevant information during an incident
- Improved reporting and knowledge of events and activities as the incident/response progresses.
Fundamentally, there will be greater integration with business as usual activities as Business Resiliency becomes part of the norm.
People are understandably frightened that artificial intelligence will eventually replace them in the workplace. And while that may be true to some extent in certain industries (such as manufacturing) it is completely untrue where business resiliency is concerned. Human professionals will still be necessary to help manage, train, and maintain AI, in addition to performing certain tasks that software platforms are not able to do on their own.
Finally, one big question. Will there be a day when all activity is automated to avoid disruptions, whatever the cause? The answer is yes although the major challenge will be the unknown.
However, the unknown may be the handing over of such processes to machines who can learn and improve/evolve.
Remember, this future is not that far away and, given the fast pace of new tech development, we are already seeing evidence of this future now and this will only continue at an elevated pace.