We are living in an increasingly digital world, but many organizations are still unaware of the extent to which they rely on digital technology and the risks that come with it. As we head towards a digitally dependent future, the need for digital resilience has never been greater.
For many years those of us working in cybersecurity fought hard to elevate the issue beyond the realms of the IT department and into the boardroom.
Recent evidence suggests that the message is finally starting to get through. According to a study by U.S. consultants McKinsey, 75 percent of executives said they considered cybersecurity to be a top priority.
Another survey by UK consultants KPMG revealed that cybersecurity was very much on the agenda in UK boardrooms, with 74 percent of UK business leaders agreeing that cybersecurity was an enabler of trust, and 45 percent believing cybersecurity specialists were an effective part of the business.
Now, however, we are gearing up for the next battle – to convince organizations of the importance of digital resilience.
Resilience is one of the most valuable long-term properties of an organization, defining its ability to grow and survive in a changing environment by successfully implementing evolving strategies.
As crises are often driven by events that are beyond their control, resilient organizations are those that are best prepared to face and adapt to the challenges ahead.
As the internet of things becomes a reality and the adoption of connected devices continues apace, it’s clear we are heading towards a future in which we will all be dependent on digital technology.
Despite many organizations adopting “digital first” or even “digital only” strategies, few have grasped how dependent their core business processes are on digital technology.
In the event of disruption or failure, switching to processes that are less dependent on technology are often no longer possible.
Digital resilience therefore represents a fundamental change in the way we understand digital technology, risk and opportunity.
As a concept it is much talked about but ill-defined, so the first step is to agree a simple and concise definition of what it actually means in a business context. I propose the following:
Digital Resilience – an organization’s ability to maintain, change or recover technology-dependent operational capability.
In a constantly evolving digital environment, organisations must be able to move quickly and seamlessly to adopt new digital technology solutions and then to recover, rebound and move forward if things go wrong.
Many commentators talk about digital resilience only in terms of cybersecurity, like this recent McKinsey blog, which says organizations are working towards a situation in which they design their business processes and IT systems to “facilitate the protection of critical information and to implement strong cyber defenses and effective plans for responding to cyberattacks.”
That is true, but digital resilience should be seen much more widely than just through a narrow cybersecurity focus.