Switzerland’s companies may have confidence in their own organisation’s resilience but unless that assurance spreads throughout their supply chain they may well be exposed if a key supplier is hit by disaster. After all, an organisation is only as strong as its weakest link.
The need for global trends in business continuity management was graphically illustrated by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated areas of Japan in 2011. The impacts of this disaster were felt thousands of miles away throughout the global supply chain, with critical supplies and components failing to be delivered in numerous industry sectors, particularly the automotive industry. Car plants stood idle and repairs were delayed for several weeks as customers worldwide came to realise that the service level agreements they had relied on were meaningless if not backed by credible business continuity plans.
Outsourcing and offshoring are other global trends that have dramatically changed the risk management landscape. In today’s global markets the key business or IT processes of many businesses now take place in low cost regions that may be less politically stable and exposed to a greater threat of natural disaster or other risks. The need to accommodate different cultures and time zones makes the job of effective global trends in business continuity even more complex for Swiss businesses.
The global trend of over-reliance by companies on their technology is another complicating factor. Gone are the days of a twelve-hour maintenance window: businesses today are expected to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In an age where we become impatient with a slow-loading website, customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders are, understandably, very unforgiving of downtime. Customer loyalty is a thing of the past. If an organisation isn’t answering its phones and its website is down, customers are likely to assume it has gone out of business and simply switch to a competitor.
The growth of social media and prevalence of the internet means bad news and rumours travel around the globe fast. Negative publicity can leave an indelible stain on a company’s image and once business confidence has been lost, it may never be recovered. For years to come, internet searches on the firm will reveal to prospective customers and business partners that the company suffered serious service outages. Consequently, high profile failures can cause devastating damage to a company’s painstakingly built reputation and effective business continuity management is more important than ever.
The more governments … businesses and civil society understand risk and vulnerability, the better equipped they will be to mitigate disasters when they strike.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
Yet even if an organisation has yet to experience a serious incident, establishing a business continuity management system (BCMS) built to ISO 22301 standards, will help to define key business processes and mitigate the risk of disruption from potential threats in the future.
While business interruptions are not always avoidable many can be predicted and prevented through global risk management. But even unavoidable disruption can be mitigated by an effective business continuity management programme that ensures your business is prepared and ready to respond should disaster strike.
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