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​Do we need business continuity any more?

Blog post   •  Aug 22, 2016 16:46 BST

Recently SunGard Availability Solutions released their availability trends report. One of the more significant stats shows a marked decline in the number of invocations - during 2015 there were just seven across in the UK (that's at Sungard sites, of course). In fact, over a 10 year period the number of invocations has gone down by 90%. But like most statistics, it raises more questions than answers, such as:

Question 1: is business continuity overhyped? Bear in mind this is taken from an overall population of several hundred if not thousands of customers in the UK, so seven is a tiny proportion. So do we have to ask ourselves is all this fuss about business continuity 'over the top'?

Question 2: is it because we are getting better at business continuity? Another explanation of the downward trend in invocations could be is that we are getting better at business continuity - that's why we are having less failures. Remember Year 2000? When it went off with hardly an incident there was a general outcry that it was all a damp squib and that the risk had been completely exaggerated. But maybe all the testing and systems upgrades that had gone on before mitigated the risks. So, in this context, we are invoking less because we are doing better at business continuity. (Unfortunately surveys on the state of organizations' business continuity plans don't reflect this - there is still significant inertia in this area).

So, as regards the statistics in the Sungard report, is there a signal in the noise or is the signal just noise?

IMHO, here's what I think is happening:

We are becoming more resilient without knowing it. Cloud, virtualization and remote working technologies, investments in national infrastructure and a trend towards 'stuff as a service' are creating a level of resilience that was not there before. In other words, industry development and strategic choices in the way we run IT and communications on a business as usual basis are making individual organisations more resilient as a result.

So where does this leave business continuity people - should they be looking for new pastures? Will the BCM function become irrelevant? I think the answer is 'no' although adaptation is inevitable because the landscape is changing. I believe we will shift our focus from following the traditional process based approach of creating BIAs, Dependencies, Departmental 'plans' to an approach of developing and assuring overarching strategies for maintaining operational resilience and protecting the 'customer experience'.

The real message coming out of SunGard's report is that things are changing and we need to respond to that.

Steve Dance is the managing partner of RiskCentric, which specialises in the automation and rapid deployment of compliance and standards management systems.

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