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Finally, at long last, there appears to be some real evidence that Business Continuity (BC) works. After years of effort trying to debunk the 80% myth (80% of organisations that don’t have a BC plan fail withing 18 months of suffering from a major incident – or something similar), I’ve now seen some real research that demonstrates that BC does, in fact, have a beneficial impact.

The research takes the form of a study from IBM Security (conducted by the Ponemon Institute), which analyses the financial impact of data breaches. According to the study, leveraging an incident response team was the single biggest factor associated with reducing the cost of a data breach: saving companies nearly $400,000 on average (or $16 per record).  The study also found that the longer it takes to detect and contain a data breach, the more costly it becomes to resolve.

Admittedly, the study covers only cyber security, but at least it’s a start. It confirms the long held assumption in BC circles that being able to quickly and effectively activate a response team to handle an incident is one of the most effective ways of reducing the impact of the incident on the organisation.

Now all we need is for someone to widen the research to cover all disruptive incidents. Anyone want to do a PhD is BC?

The report can be downloaded at http://www-03.ibm.com/security/data-breach/index.html.

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There seems to be a growing under current of opinion that is seriously starting question the current direction of Business Continuity (BC). It is best summarised by three issues that have been identified by David Lindstedt: it isn’t evolving; executives aren’t engaged; and there aren’t any meaningful metrics. To these I would add a fourth issue, and this is that the profession seems to have backed itself into a standards corner.

By pure coincidence I’ve just come across a new way forward for BC whilst undertaking research for a paper that I’ll be presenting at this year’s BCI World Conference and Exhibition in London in November. The title of my paper is “The BC Plan is Dead!”, and whilst looking for a practical example of the ideas that I’ll be presenting, I came across a novel and exciting approach to BC that has been implemented by a major UK company. I don’t want to spoil the presentation, so I can’t reveal yet who it is and what I’ll be saying, but a representative from that company will, as part of my presentation, show a new approach that is measurable, adds value to the business, has the active support of the Top Executive, extends the traditional boundaries of BC to include all disruptive incidents, and puts BC in front of the Top Executive on a regular basis.

On the assumption that this new approach “holds water”  when publicly presented, I intend to explain and document it after the Conference. I have to admit that it’s not an approach that I’ve developed, I just stumbled across it. However, I’m so impressed by what I’ve seen that I believe that it needs to be properly put in front of Business Continuity professionals.

Just when you thought that the Business Continuity (BC) profession had grown up and stopped quoting bogus statistics about the effects of not having Business Continuity Plans along comes another report trying to scare management with fairy stories.

This time the story comes from non other that the Business Continuity Institute (the BCI), which has published a paper called “Counting the Cost” as part of Business Continuity Awareness Week, in which the author states that “Figures show that 40%-60% of businesses without a BC plan never reopen after a significant incident, and the response for the first 10 days are critical to survival”. These figures come from something published on a website called visual.ly, and are totally unsubstantiated, as are all such statistics.

The author cautions the reader that “This report aims to be descriptive rather than normative. The figures cited come from surveys conducted by the BCI and other organisations (eg. IBM, Ponemon Institute, etc.), which also acknowledge the same limitations. Hence, statistical inferences cannot be applied to this data.”

If you can’t make statistical inferences about data, then don’t use the data! Pretty simple really.

Maybe, just maybe, some time in the future, the BC profession will grow up and realise that you can’t just go around quoting unsubstantiated statistics about the benefits of BC.

Resiliency, or rather Business Resilience, seems to be the flavour of the month in the Business Continuity and Risk industries. Apparently, businesses are moving away from having separate silos for Security, Risk, Health & Safety, Business Continuity, etc., and are bringing all these related disciples under the heading of resiliency and are appointing a Head of Resilience.

This all sounds quite good, and is for once a piece of joined up thinking, except that the idea of Resiliency goes beyond these operational areas to the idea of ensuring that the business itself is resilient, which takes the discipline into the areas of leadership, reputation, innovation, product development, marketing, etc.. In other words, it seems to be about everything that the business does, and that a single manager should be appointed to ensure that the business should remain resilient in the changing environment in which it operates.

Now, tell me if I’m wrong, but I thought that this was actually the point of a Board of Directors. One of the prime responsibilities of a Director of a company according to UK law is to “try to make the company a success, using your skills, experience and judgement”. In other words it is the responsibility of every Director of a company to ensure that the company is resilient – it should not be delegated to a manager as Head of Resilience.

The Business Continuity and Risk industries should either start talking about Operational Resilience, or stop talking about Resiliency.