Case histories and past experience are material for building the business case for business continuity plans. So what have the last twelve months contributed? Since the Mayan prophecies on December 21st provoked no major upsets in the world, 2012 was quiet compared to 2011. There were events like the Olympic Games and Hurricane Sandy, but no comparable tsunamis, nuclear accidents or supply chain ruptures. On the other hand, certain undercurrents in business continuity may have further reaching effects than the one-off disasters of the year before.
Despite the disaster movie and buzz about Mayan visions of an apocalypse, it has been pointed out that the predictions can be interpreted as referring to a time of transition, rather than sudden or brutal changes. Business continuity plans can also be considered as undergoing transformation in line with the evolution of business and supply chain. The drive towards segmentation of business operations to match different categories of customer demand necessarily pulls business continuity in the same direction. Similarly, the increasing use of cloud computing and business analytics is naturally mirrored in BC plans.
That does not mean that 2012 was devoid of any business continuity disasters. For example, there was the spectacular failure of the multi-billion dollar ThyssenKrupp distributed steel mill operation in the US, even if the root causes were not hurricanes, floods, fires or explosions, but overspending and faulty market forecasts. We’ll have to wait and see if the winter solstice of 2012 makes any immediate difference to business continuity plans on a world scale. Whatever happens, there’ll be some breathing space afterwards if the next Mayan cycle is the same as the one that is now ending – about 5,125 years.