How Digitization Enables Resilience in Times of Crisis

May 11, 2020

By: Frederic Abbal, Executive Vice President, Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services

Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher said, change is the only constant in life.” Though the truth of that proverb is obvious for today’s businesses, it is how organizations plan for, and neutralize the potentially devastating impacts of emergency situations that can be critical to a business’s very survival. For many small and medium-sized businesses, the statistics paint a grim picture, revealing 40% never reopen after a disaster, and of those that do, 25% fail within one year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the US. Ready.gov has estimated that 63% of companies have no process in place to bounce back after an emergency. Just because crises like climatic events, natural disasters and other catastrophic events are beyond our control doesn’t mean their impacts cannot be anticipated, evaluated and mitigated. We now have the technological capability to actively boost business continuity and viability in the face of unanticipated events — or to make their consequences worse by ignoring foreseeable risks.

Cutting-edge digital platforms combining advanced analytics with remote connectivity offer companies the visibility they need to identify potential vulnerabilities, so they can confront and lessen shocks from sudden, fast-moving threats to business continuity. Leveraging digital technology gives leaders mission critical data to help them prepare in advance for emerging situations. By anticipating emergencies and running mitigation scenarios in advance, businesses can prioritize and execute more effective crisis response tactics, thereby reducing risks for their operations, employees and customers.

Business resiliency in a world of change

Unplanned events can have a devastating effect on any business, particularly in our interdependent and interconnected world. Smart companies realize that it’s critical to have both technology and planning in place to speed their incident recovery and protect people, assets and earnings. Business continuity planning shifts the focus from the emergency itself, to identifying and protecting vital processes within the organization. For Lidl Finland, it means defining a strategy to maintain operations so that critical business functions don’t come to a halt. Every organization’s response blueprint will contain a unique combination of risk, incident, crisis and continuity management features. No matter the operational context, resilient companies proactively plan to overcome the consequences of uncertainty, and digital tools are leading the way to better outcomes.

Anticipating the inevitable

When traditional business functions and channels are impacted during a crisis, the value of a digital operations catalog suddenly becomes obvious, but being prepared means equipping the critical infrastructure before disaster strikes. For example, BASF has combined digitization with remote monitoring so cloud-based connected services can ensure operational data is up-to-date, centralized and stored in a secure, readily available digital vault. Physical and production assets are fully cataloged, so management has visibility into the criticality of each business process, as well as the knowledge required to maintain operations. Digital technologies give stakeholders access to more accurate and complete information so they can reduce guesswork and implement a standardized and coordinated approach to creating and maintaining compliance assessments and audits, in addition to testing business continuity plans.  Because technology continuously evolves, pragmatic leaders reassess their organization’s needs, budget and plans continually, and when the capabilities aren’t available in house, look to the wide variety of managed, professional services that are available to help implement the plan.

Preparation and planning breed success

One of the benefits of connectivity in our “always-on” digital world is that, when combined with a solid strategy, technology enables speed, agility and knowledge in times of crises. Unplanned events don’t respect regular work hours, holidays or weekends, and a resilient organization must be willing and able to engage effectively at a moment’s notice. Apps and mobile crisis platforms can activate key staff immediately and give them direct access to essential information that helps them quickly coordinate business continuity efforts, while enabling team members to identify their role, location and activity more quickly than ever before. In addition to enabling many employees to work off-site, and access remote expertise as circumstances dictate, collaboration applications and virtual/augmented reality software offer the potential for the organization’s on-site employees to get help troubleshooting their issue from remote service professionals who can access real-time status and condition updates efficiently and provide timely guidance.

Converting crisis into opportunity

Adaptable companies whose planning, strategy and coordination enabled them to weather crisis are frequently more efficient, better connected and more customer-centric. The digital tools that enabled remote workplace collaboration, virtual process management and real-time connectivity can also create a results-focused mindset. And just as trust in an organization can be irreparably damaged by disruptions and poor incident management, so too can confidence in a brand be greatly enhanced by successful crisis resolution that boosts the customer experience. Today’s stakeholders expect prompt, real-time updates of a company’s response procedures, mitigation scenarios and best practices that state-of-the-art digital tools easily enable. Owning the narrative is a key plank in a resilient organization’s ability to reassure customers and employees that their incident response action team is taking immediate and effective action.

 

This post first appeared on Schneider Electric's blog. To view the original, click here.

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