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If the past few years have been any indication of what’s to come, organizations around the world will continue to face an unprecedented volume of disruption. With many companies still recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders have taken a renewed interest in business resilience and continuity.
But what’s the difference between business continuity and resilience? How do they overlap, and where do they diverge? Answering these questions is key to understanding how to successfully plan for, mitigate and respond to unexpected crises and disruptions in ways that strengthen your business over time.
Here, we’ll explore business continuity and resilience, why each is critical to risk management and why—although often used interchangeably—it’s important to understand that the terms are not one and the same.
As defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), business continuity is an organization’s ability to continue to deliver its products and services at acceptable levels following a business disruption. In simple terms, business continuity management involves all of the processes and procedures associated with ensuring that critical operations are maintained to meet appropriate standards.
For example, imagine a natural disaster strikes an office building and destroys an organization’s network infrastructure. Without proper business continuity planning, the company’s data and corporate resources would be lost, thus throwing critical operations into disarray. But by having already backed up its infrastructure to an off-site data center, the company is able to maintain operations while also initiating its emergency response.
Business resilience moves beyond the scope of continuity planning and takes a more dynamic, strategic approach to risk mitigation. Resilience, according to the ISO, is an organization's ability to not just provide immediate responses to disruption, but to adapt to its risk environment under changing circumstances. The goal of business resiliency is to ensure organizations are prepared to absorb the blow of disruption without inflicting a significant toll on business operations.
Take the pandemic, for example. When COVID-19 forced businesses to close office doors in early 2020, many responded by shifting to remote work conditions. Pivoting to agile business models allowed organizations to adapt and overcome the challenge of working in a distributed environment. According to Buffer, nearly half of organizations are fully remote, while 72% plan to implement a permanent remote work model—a choice that enables enterprises to withstand similar disruptions in the future.
It’s easiest to think of business continuity as the set of procedures that allow an organization to continue operating during a crisis. In contrast, resilience is the capability to withstand the shock of an unexpected disruption and rebound to an acceptable state of ongoing operation.
The Business Continuity Institute conducts an annual survey that ranks the potential threats organizations could face in the next 12 months. According to its 2022 Horizon Scan report, businesses are worried about the following:
Any combination of the risks above could threaten critical business operations. In fact, BCI’s data indicates that the most common consequence of disruption is low staff morale, followed by loss of productivity, employee turnover and a loss of revenue, not to mention other long-lasting effects such as reputational damage and customer churn.
With proper resilience and continuity management systems in place, businesses can achieve several positive outcomes. In tandem, continuity and resilience enable organizations to:
Few things are more important to organizational survival than continuity and resilience. But when it comes to building a resilient organization, where do you begin?
Start by creating a business continuity plan—a document that identifies the most essential business functions and how they should be maintained during a crisis. There are three primary types of business continuity plans:
Crisis management plan: Outlines the steps and considerations an organization needs to strategically respond to a disruption.
Emergency response plan: Details procedures that should be followed to mitigate various types of threats and ensure preservation of life.
IT disaster recovery plan: Describes procedures for the recovery of critical IT systems, data and other technology assets.
Organizations must complete two key activities when creating a business continuity plan:
Use these activities to identify and prioritize potential threats so that the business can develop appropriate risk mitigation strategies. Implement these procedures, test them out and update them as needed.
Build upon continuity planning and transcend the short-sighted scope of immediate disruption by accounting for long-term adaptation.
Resilient organizations, according to Forrester, “dynamically react to a sudden event or crisis regardless of whether they had foreseen it as being a risk.” They understand the specifics of any given crisis and have a practiced response that allows them to mitigate disruptions as efficiently as possible.
To achieve a state of effective resilience, organizations should balance across six critical areas:
According to Forrester, planning and executing a “future-fit tech strategy” is what creates the foundation for effective business resilience. In other words, technological resilience is the stepping-stone organizations can use to stop rolling the dice and start taking a more strategic approach to risk management.
With the right stack of technologies, businesses elevate risk mitigation capabilities and support the development of their continuity and resilience programs simultaneously. And there’s no technology more suited to achieving that goal than a real-time alerting solution like Dataminr Pulse.
Dataminr Pulse uses publicly available data to detect the earliest signals of high-risk events. Real-time information empowers organizations to respond to disruptions faster, more efficiently and with as much context as possible.
There are many ways that an organization can leverage Dataminr Pulse to develop both immediate business continuity plans and long-term business resilience:
Dataminr Pulse enables organizations to put risk management into complete context and prepare to the best of their ability. This affords them the flexibility to respond faster, more effectively and with more confidence—all while also preparing for potential threats down the line.
As the rapid emergence of risk and unplanned disruption continues to accelerate, firms are right to set their sights on business continuity and resilience. But to truly reach the point of resiliency, they’ll need the force-multiplying advantage of real-time information.
Request a demo to learn more about the full power of Dataminr Pulse.