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Making the case for business resilience

By Shailendra Singh

Organizations today are presented with an ever-growing number of challenges, compounded by the speed of technological change and evolution, all of which act together to increase business risk.

In such an unpredictable environment, the ability to weather market and technological and financial stress is critical to sustainability. Reactive corporate disaster recovery is no longer sufficient. Resilient systems and processes that keep businesses running as usual during any crisis are the key to retaining competitive advantage.

One of the biggest issues facing organizations today is a plethora of unpredictable disruptions that have the potential to seriously destabilise business.

These include natural disasters, an ever-growing number of cyber security threats to shrinking resources, new social patterns and constantly evolving technology, along with more and more pressure from regulatory compliance. Disaster recovery plans, which are reactive by nature, are no longer effective at minimising the various risks these disruptions could cause. Building business resilience, which gives organizations the ability to ‘bounce back' from these challenges, has become essential to minimising risk and creating success.

Business resilience should include a number of different components, such as operational resilience, strategic resilience and process resilience. Operational resilience assists an organization to deal with day-to-day threats to the business, including cyber threats.

Strategic resilience is the ability to adapt and respond to broader threats and opportunities. Process resilience ensures that the underlying IT systems, people, practices and technologies that enable an organization to function consistently are able to handle the current fast-paced rate of change. Together, these various areas of resilience allow an enterprise to become more proactive about potential disasters, which ensures an enhanced ability to maintain business continuity in an unpredictable market.

The key to creating business resilience is simplification. Organizations need to focus on the fundamentals, and minimise the amount of effort dedicated to areas that are not driving the business. Resilience needs to be built into the core of the business, rather than embedded ‘across' the organization. For example, within the banking sector, the payment system is the core of the business. If this fails, business cannot continue. Within manufacturing, supply chain is critical. These are the areas where the ability to ‘bounce back' from challenges is essential to the continued operations and profitability of a business: identifying this core and focusing on it lies at the heart of a resilient organization.

To minimise the impact of the disruption, it is also vital to have the right people in place, who have the ability to identify the root of the problem and fix it quickly. It is also important that business create and instil within its people a strong sense of the company's purpose, which is to serve customers and clients. This is extremely important, as creating engaged and loyal customers is another essential step in the journey toward resilience. People who are engaged with a brand are the ones who come back to an organization after a crisis and help them to rebuild.

In addition to the ability to recover quickly from multiple challenges and disruptions, the key to true resilience is to create a culture of continuous improvement. Learning from past mistakes is of the essence in enabling organizations to emerge from a crisis more effective and more resilient than before.

Business resilience not only enables an organization to become more agile in a challenging market, it also delivers a number of benefits, including improved operational performance, optimised costs and improved growth. Driving resilience will ensure that a business can recover quickly from a wide variety of threats and challenges, while creating competitive advantages for increased effectiveness.

The author
Shailendra Singh is business director, Africa Region, Wipro.

•Date: 6th November 2014 • Africa/World •Type: Article • Topic: BC general

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