Business Continuity and Split Corporate Personality

Business continuity originated in electronic data processing or EDP. Some observers joked that the personality of an EDP manager corresponded to those three letters. E stood for Engineer. The EDP manager, more commonly referred to as an IT manager nowadays, was technically astute and obsessed over the hardware and software details of the company’s computer systems. D stood for Ditherer. EDP managers had difficulty in making up their minds which computing solution to implement. And P stood for Politician. The EDP manager was a political animal constantly looking for opportunities of career advancement. Was there any truth in such an assessment – and how does the situation compare today?

Just as business continuity has assumed greater recognition and importance in recent years, so IT has confirmed its role as the lynchpin of business activity in general. Accordingly, IT management has reached higher and higher levels too. The Chief Information Officer is frequently now a true ‘C-level’ position at the right hand of the CEO and on a par with the Chief Financial Officer, for example. At that level, a CIO is obliged to be politically capable in order to secure budgets and commitment for IT projects that are strategic for the organisation. Responsibility for technical detail may well be delegated to the CIO’s second-in-command, who ensures the smooth daily running of IT operations.

It seems that the personality or at least the roles have been neatly split between boardroom politics and system room engineering.  And the Ditherer aspect? Perhaps that was just a dig at IT managers of the time. Nowadays, IT managers cannot afford to be ditherers any more than any other manager in an enterprise. Will business continuity go through a similar transformation? Only time will tell. But while you’re waiting for that Chief Business Continuity Officer position to open up, keep up the good work analysing, planning, testing and managing your organisation’s business continuity.