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Charlie Maclean Bristol offers five predictions for areas that will have an impact on business continuity during 2019…

Volatility globally is going to get worse

In 2019 there will be an acceleration of the global change from globalism, social liberal politics and the USA as the unchallenged superpower, to a world of populism, nationalism and trade wars; with China and Russia challenging USA hegemony. There has been a lot in the news post-Christmas about sales being down for certain shops in the UK high street, so again we can see that the switch to online is accelerating and disrupting existing businesses. This means there will be even more uncertainty for businesses over the next year. This all suggests the need for organizations to be more resilient and nimbler, in order to be able to horizon scan for new challenges and be able to adapt to changing circumstances as they occur.

One of the roles of business continuity managers is to look outside the organization to identify possible supply chain issues, incidents elsewhere which could affect the organization, and possible new threats. Over the year we should redouble our efforts to carry out this role effectively.

Brexit will continue to provide uncertainty and a need for contingency planning

Over the last few weeks, the UK government has stepped up planning for a no-deal Brexit, and has produced planning assumptions, as well as starting to implement contingency preparations. Even if there is a deal which prevents a no-deal Brexit, there will still be disruption to the supply chain as the new deal is implemented. My personal feeling is that many organizations are holding off doing any planning until there is an idea of what the final deal will be. I have heard that some businesses are looking at nine different potential scenarios, which we could be in post-Brexit in April. The Theresa May deal currently on the table, even if it is agreed, is only for a two-year transition period. So, for the next two years there will be further uncertainty as the final deal is agreed. If there is a second referendum and Brexit is called off, there will be a lot of political upheaval within the UK, as those who thought they had achieved Brexit find it snatched away. UK business continuity managers need to get involved in Brexit contingency planning!

Cyber will remain a high threat

As more organizations have cyber breaches, perhaps the reputational impact on the organization may be less, but the impact amongst their stakeholders and customers affected by the breach will still be high. Regulators globally are taking a greater interest in cyber breaches and will cut down the amount of time the organization has to report a breach; they will also impose greater penalties on those who have lost data and this change will accelerate. Many organizations still think that a cyber breach is an IT problem and can be handled by IT staff. I think there will be a push by government, national security bodies and regulators to ensure that senior managers are aware of their responsibilities for managing a cyber breach.

Climate change will continue to give us freak weather

I am not sure whether the number of occurrences of freak weather will go up, but we will continue to see instances of it round the world. This will continue to cause transport and supply chain issues for all of us, as well as bringing misery to the population in the area impacted.

ISO 22301

This year there is a new version of ISO 22301 coming out and I am sure there will be a number of other ISO guidance documents coming out. Although there will be a few changes in the new ISO 22301, especially around risk, the new version will not fundamentally change how to implement and maintain business continuity. Although over the last few years there have been a few attempts to radically change the business continuity lifecycle and processes, on the whole, apart from a few changes in terms, it has not fundamentally changed. So, my final prediction is that business continuity in 2019 will not radically change!

The author

Charlie Maclean-Bristol, FEPS, FBCI, is Director of Training at PlanB Consulting.

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