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Back in September, I took part in a webinar on the subject of Brexit, joined by Castellan’s own Steve Hodgson, and John Bolton, Head of Group Operational resilience at AXA and James Gow, Senior Manager, Business Continuity at Deloitte.

Firstly, my intention here is not to get political or express any views against, or in support of, Brexit. I just wanted to explore the key messages from our conversation about the continuity and resilience implications of Brexit.

There are those that think about such events with doom and gloom, and who may judge Brexit as just one more challenge, following on from what has arguably been the most difficult and also enlightening year for the business continuity and resilience profession.

Yes, Brexit has potential for more organisational change coupled with a large dose of long-term uncertainty, and in this context could just be viewed as the next negative, stress inducing event that tests organisations left fragile after COVID.

But ever the optimist and with my pint glass half full, let me explain.

Brexit & Business Continuity

As a profession, historically, there has been too much of an internal lens when approaching continuity and resilience, ingrained in the way that many articulate impact and priorities. As exhibit A, I cite the way in which many pose questions as part of their programmes, namely:

  • What is the impact on the organisation?
  • How does a disruption affect our ability to deliver?
  • How do we respond to a disruption to our organisation?
  • How do we recover our critical functions?

All of these have an element of internal bias, coming from an organisational perspective - note the use of “our” – and are common words we hear.

COVID definitely resulted in disruption to “our” own organisations and definitely required internal effort to make sure we stayed open for business. But the real impact, to the organisations that felt it the most, was to their customers and the markets in which they operate.

Simply stated, customer channels evaporated overnight, markets rapidly altered to reflect change in customer demands, change in customer behaviour and with a need for new or altered channels of engagement. For many consumer businesses it became essential to re-imagine customer engagement to retain brand allegiance and value. 

These were not impacts that happened internally, but ones that challenged the very foundations of the business model. Who we sell to, how we sell and how we reach, engage, support and deliver outcomes to our customers.

Customer Centricity through COVID-19

This disruption brought a new key ingredient to our continuity and resilience programmes, that of a customer centric, external viewpoint in the context of the products and services that the business offers.

This speaks directly to Operational Resilience, which whilst a key focus for financial services due to regulatory demands is gaining momentum for all sectors as they look to make their programmes more meaningful.

At the same time, COVID enabled a massively enhanced response capability, quickly flexing to the ever-evolving situation and challenged, face on, so many of the assumptions upon which continuity and resilience capability was based.

Because of COVID, UK businesses have probably encountered their maximum ever levels of uncertainty, have introduced more flexible and agile response mechanism’s and truly understand the connection between customers, channels and their importance in value creation in their business models. 

Against this, those that have endured COVID are probably the strongest in terms of continuity and resilience that they have ever been, have the executive engagement to truly succeed, can effect change and make decisions at a rate not experienced before and have fully operationalised their ability to be respond and be ready for anything.

COVID has delivered something positive after all and left many with a confidence in corporate capability.

With Brexit we will, or will not have a deal – this is an absolute certainty – concrete outcomes against which we can all prepare.

Compared to COVID it does not seem so daunting as it did in 2019 does it…… 

Topics: Business Continuity| In The News

Ian Crabb, Global Head of Strategy

Written by Ian Crabb, Global Head of Strategy

Ian Crabb is the Global Head of Strategy for ClearView and Assurance. During Ian's nearly 30 years of experience, in addition to providing independent continuity consulting and program management services to global clients, he has held both board and senior management roles within continuity service providers and operational responsibility for continuity within organizations; and brings a wealth of knowledge from these opposite viewpoints.

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