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The New Normal

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I recently read a report by Forrester called “The New, Unstable Normal: How COVID-19 Will Change Business And Technology Forever.”  In my opinion, it’s comprehensive and smart and really struck a chord with me based on how my colleagues and I at iGrafx have been thinking about the “new normal.”

Early on, when talking with another analyst, Charles Araujo with Intellyx, we realized that the new normal that enterprises would have to deal with would, in fact, be a state of continuous disruption.  Whereas in the past, businesses created business continuity plans (BCPs) with the belief that they’d “flip a switch” in the event of a disaster (i.e. hurricane, act of terrorism, flood, etc.), and then pivot back immediately when the event was over.  Sadly, there will no longer be an “over.”  We are only part of the way into this marathon race that is Covid-19, while at the same time facing global racial unrest, global economic recession, a pivot to alternative energy from fossil fuels and the ongoing push towards truly disruptive technologies like blockchain and AI.  The new normal will be a lot of things, but it will not be status quo.

For a frightening perspective, the Forrester report I mentioned above said specifically about global disease that, “pandemics, epidemics, and disease outbreaks will become more common. In the future, there won’t be a 10-year period between global pandemics as there was between H1N1 and COVID-19. Globalization continues to make us more susceptible, and climate change increases the risk further. One CISO and head of risk told us that his firm is already planning for a future pandemic scenario where the fatality rate is 10%.”

Emphatically, all the analysts I’ve spoken with lately, including Forrester, Gartner, 451 Research and Intellyx, have said that business continuity and resiliency must be a fundamental enterprise aptitude going forward.  And they’ve emphasized that this isn’t your grandfather’s BCP focused on emergency notifications, cyber security, data center fail-over and web conferencing solutions for working at home.  This kind of BC&R is about looking at day-to-day operations from a strategic and cross-functional perspective in order to identify business critical processes and create a legitimate business impact analysis.  In other words, if any of these processes break (think supply chain and/or workforce allocation and/or risk & compliance), what is the impact to the business?  How can that impact be mitigated?  How can the business meld the emergency process and the legacy process into a new best practice?

Here’s how Forrester explains it – again from “The New, Unstable Normal” report: “Business resiliency will become a competitive advantage.  Business resiliency is the ability of an organization to deliver on its vision and brand promise, no matter the crisis. Maintaining operations during unforeseen events takes more than luck: resilient companies identify and mitigate risk; invest in business continuity (BC) planning; build flexible crisis and incident response capabilities; and design business and technology systems for dependability. A resilient business aspires to 1) create stronger emotional connections with its customers, 2) better recruit and retain talent, 3) protect its revenues and reputation during a crisis, and 4) recover from disruptions more quickly than its competitors.”

You might be thinking that this sounds a lot like the adorably abstract goal of “digital transformation” that businesses were all clamoring to achieve before they all simultaneously had the rug pulled out from under them.  Now they’re actually making real progress…  To paraphrase someone smart, “we’ve seen more digital transformation in the last six months than we’ve seen in the last six years.”

The new normal will be anything but normal.  However, a solid BC&R aptitude can help companies survive today and thrive tomorrow.  This is what iGrafx does and we’d be happy to talk to you.  In fact, there’s a free BC&R preparedness assessment here.  And a wealth of other BC&R resources here.

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