Reading the Tea Leaves: What’s Next in the World of Business Continuity in 2018

what to expect in 2018

As 2017 winds down, I thought it might be worthwhile to knock back a cup of Earl Grey and see what the tea leaves show lies ahead for the world of business continuity in 2018.

Here’s the thumbnail version of my forecast:

  • The overall picture of most BC programs is going to be one of ongoing uncertainty, with lots of small-scale agitations but no dominating trends.
  • Two peripheral trends I see are the continued movement of services to the cloud and the increasing influence of millennials on the world of business continuity.

  • In the world at large, I think we’re going to see the continuing proliferation of the risks associated with climate change and terrorism and also the potential movement of international conflict into cyberspace. These developments could have significant impacts on the practice of business continuity management.

One thing that we know is coming in 2018 is the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The EU’s strict new privacy protection rules go into enforcement on May 28, as I discussed in my blog post from last week, GDPR Compliance: A Heads-Up for Business Continuity Professionals. Take a look if you would like to know more about what GDPR might mean for your organization.

And while I’m making suggestions for further reading, let me call your attention to an interesting survey by Continuity Central. These are the interim results of their survey of business continuity professionals worldwide, asking people what they see happening in their programs in 2018. The results of this survey triggered some of the points I make below.

In the rest of this article, I’ll share some additional thoughts on the topics mentioned above, along with a few others.

Business Continuity in 2018

When I said in the beginning that the outlook for BC programs overall is for lots of small agitations but no compelling trends what I meant is that over the four or five measures commonly used to evaluate BCM programs, the Continuity Central survey results show no clear patterns. Some people’s budget will be increasing, some will be decreasing. A modest number of programs anticipate acquiring new business continuity software in the coming year. Very few programs are expected to increase their headcount. Most will stay the same or shed staff.

If you are one of those managers who plan on obtaining new BC software in the coming year, you might want to look at our post from a few weeks ago, Deciding Between Creating Your Own Business Continuity Software or Buying Off the Shelf. It contains tips on what to look for when shopping for a new BC tool.

The impression I get from my conversations with people at different clients of ours around the country is that most companies are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things have been going well, but people wonder how long it can go on. There’s a lack of confidence in the underlying strength of the economy. Many organizations are playing it safe.

As ever, companies are focusing most of their energy on production and revenue rather than on business continuity. (I think the case can be made that business continuity is actually a revenue generator rather than revenue drain, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

I liken the situation overall to choppy water. The waves are not running strongly in any one direction. Instead, they are sloshing around a little bit this way and a little bit that way.

Under these conditions, the smart BC manager will cultivate an attitude of vigilance and flexibility.

As I mentioned, two trends I do see are the continuation of the move toward cloud-based services and the increasing influence of millennials in business continuity.

When companies come to depend on cloud-based solutions for critical business functions, they are extending their risks into the cloud as well. Adapting to this shift will be one of the business continuity field’s main concerns in 2018 and beyond.

In BC terms, the move into the cloud amounts to a dramatic lengthening of the supply chain, with all of the attendant dependencies and risks.

In terms of the rising role of millennials, what we are looking at is a generational changing of the guard. A lot of my longtime clients and contacts are approaching retirement, and with their departure will go a great deal of knowledge and ability.

That cohort of professionals can be described as traditional in their outlook and culture. Meanwhile, the younger people who are moving into the field are as intelligent as any who have ever come through the pike, but, certain things that have traditionally been done in the BC field will likely not strike them as very compelling or even necessary (for example, our 100-page business continuity plans and 2-hour business impact analysis meetings).

Those of us in our 40s and 50s who have been around for a while are going to have to learn new ways of communicating and passing on our knowledge in order to work productively with our incoming younger colleagues and clients.

Lastly, I think 2018 will see the continued proliferation of risks to organizations. I think the spike in extreme weather events we saw in 2017 will continue in 2018, apparently reflecting the effects of climate change. Of course, terrorism also continues to be a threat.

Along the same lines, I think business continuity professionals need to take seriously the possibility that sometime in the not-too-distant future we will see state-sponsored cyber attacks on our infrastructure. Imagine what would happen if a whole region of the United States lost its internet for three or four days. You might think it could never happen, but I imagine that until last week few of the people running Hartsfield airport in Atlanta seriously contemplated that they could completely lose power for 11 hours.

The record shows that in today’s world, the black swans are coming our way more and more frequently.

Keep reading our blog as the new year unfolds, and we’ll see if my reading of the 2018 BC tea leaves holds true.

Consider BCMMetrics™ Business Continuity Management Tools

Using BCM software can improve the agility of your organization. The software tools developed by BCMMetrics can provide just these types of benefits. If you’re searching for business continuity software, take a look at BCMMetrics. Our cloud-based solutions facilitate compliance across your business continuity program and include tools to help with:

  • Conducting BIAs. BIA On-Demand (BIAOD) gives you all the right questions to ask for every BIA interview. It also organizes the data to provide insights and easily share with your team.
  • Evaluating standards compliance. Compliance Confidence (C2) makes it simple to assess your program’s level of compliance with key industry standards. It also gives you a “FICO-like” score that helps identify areas for improvement.
  • Assessing your program’s residual risk. Residual Risk (R2) quantitatively identifies where pockets of residual risk exist and helps you evaluate how to handle them.

We also offer eight hours of free consulting in the first year to help with each tool to make sure you’re getting everything you want out of it. Our tools are intuitive, secure, and do the job. If that’s what you’re looking for in a business continuity management system, schedule a free demo of our software today.

Michael Herrera is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MHA. In his role, Michael provides global leadership to the entire set of industry practices and horizontal capabilities within MHA. Under his leadership, MHA has become a leading provider of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services to organizations on a global level. He is also the founder of BCMMETRICS, a leading cloud based tool designed to assess business continuity compliance and residual risk. Michael is a well-known and sought after speaker on Business Continuity issues at local and national contingency planner chapter meetings and conferences. Prior to founding MHA, he was a Regional VP for Bank of America, where he was responsible for Business Continuity across the southwest region.

Business continuity consulting for today’s leading companies.

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