We expect our mobile phones to come with every feature and functionality we need in daily life. Almost every smartphone can make calls, send texts and emails, play music, perform mobile banking, access social media, and perform a seemingly limitless list of other functions.
Think back to just 20 years ago. Did you even have a cell phone? And if you did, what could it do? At most, it took calls, and could send texts and emails if you were lucky.
Technology evolves and quickly moves past us while completely changing the standards we expect. In the same 20 years, business continuity has grown from a concept contained in binders to fully-fledged programs capable of answering extreme business threats. Part of that transformation is thanks to technology, and business continuity tech will continue to push the boundary, setting new expectations for practitioners to meet.
Let’s talk about what business continuity tech is shaping into and what functionalities it should give to its users.
We Have (Better) Technology
Software platforms are a must even now for programs of even moderate sizes.
It’s hard to imagine the software standard being thrown out, so we’ll probably see the utility of software platforms in business continuity grow and strengthen in the future.
If software in the business continuity space is so ubiquitous (and will continue to be), the question then becomes what can that platform do for the practitioners that use it.
What practitioners should look for in business continuity software tools is what they look for in a smartphone: a platform that can do it all. Any tool should be able perform, or at least assist in, each of the responsibilities practitioners hold.
Essential Capabilities for BCP Tools
Composing: Creating and Storing Plans
Plans are a cornerstone of business continuity, and any tool for practitioners needs to give them the power to build plans. Ideally, a platform should make plan creation a simple process, one that requires practitioners and other stakeholders to plug in information to generate a dynamic and actionable plan.
If all a platform does is store plans, it’s really no better than a shelf topped with binders. Technology needs to (and will) give practitioners a clear pathway from plan creation to activation, starting a response, and review and revision.
Any platform needs to be a space for an organization to respond to the threat that spurred a plan activation. The world and workforce is now more distributed than ever, and technology should bridge that physical gap with a virtual space that contains all the tools needed to effectively quell a disruption.
Nothing Left Unsaid: Communications and Reports
Communication is incredibly valuable in business continuity. Any tool practitioners employ should make getting messages out and starting conversations nearly automatic.
No one person does everything in business continuity, and a program will only be successful when all stakeholders contribute. Tools need to give stakeholders the ability to properly communicate through any phase of business continuity so they can provide essential information.
Additionally, reporting capabilities are a must. Leadership and other teams need specific information and may find extra information, or having to sift through irrelevant information, tedious or time-consuming. Reports provide curated information, giving other stakeholders and teams the data they need to make decisions while saving time and effort.
Mass notification is another pillar of communications, and it’s a must for business continuity software now and in the future.
Call and Response: Collaboration
As we stated above, business continuity is far from being a one-man show.
Business continuity programs succeed when other members of an organization recognize their role and are allowed to participate in a meaningful way.
In past years, this meant setting meetings, sending emails, and having conversations. But now the workers are everywhere, working remotely from anywhere but the office. Tools have to serve these conditions.
All stakeholders hold critical information about business functions, and planners need that information. Software tools need to enable those stakeholders and allow them to hand that essential information over to planners.
Collaboration tools are perfect for this. Objects like forms and workflows allow stakeholders to input their data directly into the planning process. At the very least, a collaboration platform should allow for seamless virtual communication so planners can pluck the information and place it appropriately into the program.
Full Stop: Security and Data Back-ups
Functionalities and use cases make for a great platform for business continuity, but some security features mean the difference between a viable and unusable platform.
Cyber crimes and their bad actors are more prevalent than ever before. Any business continuity tech used in an organization’s program needs to be resilient, capable of preventing bad actors from finding a way in and gaining an upper hand.
Now and in the next coming years, your organization should check the security chops of any tool it employs for business continuity. Any platform should also offer the chance to back up critical data to water down the threat of data ransom.
And, in a worst case scenario, your platform should also work as an alternative for critical business functions. While a bad actor can still cause issues by taking down functions and processes, alternatives keep downtime to a minimum.
On the Move: Mobile Access
Everything is on our phones now, and business continuity should be no different.
While mobile may not be the preferred port for performing business continuity operations, the capability is still invaluable. Mobile access, usually through mobile apps, simplifies the participation requirement business continuity program managers pass onto their stakeholders.
And when a disruption disregards work hours or days off, and mobile accessibility ropes in practitioners and their stakeholders when they aren’t near desk- and laptops.
Our Sights Set Forward
Our standards and expectations change over time. Phones are the perfect example; what ideas and features would seem like crazy demands in 2002 are an assumed part of the package in 2022. Business continuity is maturing, and so is its technology. Practitioners need to keep this in mind, and make sure any tool they welcome into their program adequately meets the needs of their organization.