It’s what allows us not just to bounce back, but to bounce forward.

2020 was a year that saw many profound events, so much so that for the first time in history, Oxford Languages expanded its well-known Word of the Year to encompass 47 “Words of an Unprecedented Year”. The 38-page report includes Covid-19 and all its related vocabulary; political and economic volatility; social activism; the environment; and the rapid uptake of new technologies and behaviours to support virtual ways of working.

While it was not surprising that the events of last year could not be portrayed neatly by just one word, I think that looking ahead there will be one word that will encapsulate how we will move forward. And that word is resilience.

Resilience is often spoken about in terms of simply getting through or navigating challenges. But the key part of resilience isn’t just about bouncing back, it’s about bouncing forward. It is also about using adversity as a catalyst to improve and become stronger.

I believe that resilience will be important not only for life as we know it, but also for business.

The implications for businesses

We all saw businesses worldwide shift their digital transformation journeys into fifth gear, accelerated by changing work structures and business models over the past 12 months.

This digital revolution rapidly increased the availability of data, degree of connectivity, and the speed at which decisions are made. These changes offered transformational promise but also came with the potential for large-scale failure and security breaches, together with a rapid cascade of consequences.

This is why organisations need to move from simply viewing cyber security in isolation and make the shift to build their operational strategies to include cyber resilience at the core – the ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from cyber attacks and security breaches – even stronger than ever before.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss this topic with 150+ leaders, industry experts and cyber specialists from around the world during our 7th annual ITC Cyber Summit.

Cyber resilience was seen across the board as key to operational resilience and business continuity, as well as the growth and flourishing of the economy, as we adapt to the demands of operating online.

It’s a view that was also supported by our keynote speaker, Paddy McGuinness CMG OBE, during the summit where his call to action was that we need to focus on cyber resilience and not only cyber security or cyber defence”.

Learn from the past and rethink your future

Of course, we have always needed resilience – whether it be from a personal or organisational point-of-view. But what we have learnt in 2020 at both an individual and a collective level is that it is something that we simply can’t do without.

Our partner, Microsoft, shared at Microsoft Ignite 2020 that only 54% of its customers indicated that their operational resilience plans had prepared them adequately for the pandemic. At our Cyber Summit, 20% of global leaders in the audience acknowledged that their company lacked the ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from cyber attacks today.

While no two organisations follow the same path to cyber resilience, what this does show is that there is still work to be done to ensure that every aspect of business operations becomes more resilient and transformed, with the right blend of technology, governance and training in order to protect the entire business.

The consequences of not having this in place can deeply affect all parts of business functions – operational, social, and financial. Therefore, it is imperative for every enterprise to learn from the unprecedented year we have all lived through and rethink how to prioritise and build resilience into the core of their businesses.

To find out more please contact us at [email protected] – we’d love to help.