Posted: 18 May. 2020 10 min. read

Resilience reimagined: how the coronavirus pandemic is shaping Organisational Resilience across the TMT industry

Focus on Organisational Resilience has intensified in recent years, but what does it really mean? Organisational Resilience is an outcome of having the right mindset, structures, and capabilities to thrive in the face of change and uncertainty. It is also a balance between two opposing but mutually supportive objectives – stopping bad things from happening and making good things happen[1]. Organisational Resilience covers three main areas: financial, operational and reputational resilience.

Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) companies are playing a crucial role in allowing us to stay connected, informed and entertained through the pandemic. Although each sector has faced unique challenges, much of the industry has shown remarkable resourcefulness, creativity and innovation in responding to material adversity.

Looking ahead to a prolonged period of disruption, it seems timely to pause and reflect on how the conditions created by the pandemic are accelerating the need to focus on organisational resilience as a strategic imperative, and how this can be built in a robust way for the challenges that may lie ahead.

Here, we consider four main challenges that TMT organisations have faced; how they have, or might, respond with resilience; and what they can do now to future-proof themselves against similar storms.

1.    ‘Traditional’ business continuity risks have not gone away  

The pandemic has highlighted the fact that, whilst digital and cyber risks remain important, traditional business continuity risks such as concentration of services, continuity of supplies and unavailability of key locations have not gone away. Pinch points in global supply chains mean that both hardware and software providers have at times struggled to meet exponential demand for remote working technologies. In lieu of reasonable alternatives, some tech companies have simply optimised existing assets and offerings, prioritising strategic accounts to manage demand. Telcos, meanwhile, have responded to extraordinary pressure on the mobile network by collaborating with governments and the wider sector to utilise unallocated spectrum or share spectrum to better serve the needs of public services and communities. In broadcasting, social distancing has thwarted most content development. However, the sector has responded creatively, embracing remote working, developing virtual content (e.g. esports), and producing content ‘from home’.

2.   Regulatory scrutiny on operational resilience is intensifying

The coronavirus pandemic has not only demonstrated the importance of high-speed broadband services to the resilience of the nation, but also how well it has coped so far under intense demand. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect that governmental and regulatory scrutiny on its operational resilience will intensify in the future as the UK further develops fibre, FTTC and 5G technologies. To meet this challenge, communications providers should consider any evolving regulatory and governmental guidelines alongside the outcomes of the National Infrastructure Commission’s Resilience Study (Scoping Report) to understand what implications these may have for developing, managing, monitoring and governing the resilience of the network.

3.    Consumer appetites are changing

The unique conditions presented by the pandemic have increased consumer appetites for digital services. Consumers are spending more time reading news online, streaming content, and using online platforms to communicate with others. For now, many sectors are considering how they can sweat existing digital assets to realise better short-term returns. Long-term, they will need to understand whether this is a transient shift that abates as restrictions are lifted or whether the pandemic has permanently altered behaviours. If the latter, they will need to become part of the future, pivoting quickly to meet changing consumer demand. Reflecting now on the changes that the pandemic has brought and the extent to which these may permanently shape future strategy and operations will be time well spent.

4.    Reputational resilience is crucial to organisational resilience

As the impact of the pandemic became clear, the industry re-evaluated what was important. Tech giants made donations to fund PPE, telcos removed data caps to support connectivity, and pauses were built into premium broadcasting schedules to campaign for the NHS. Across all three sectors, businesses showed their resolve to make meaningful contributions to the greater good, even if that meant co-developing with competitors.  When, eventually, the COVID-19 threat dissipates, TMT organisations will need to consider how they can incorporate reputational resilience into their wider resilience approach, focussing on the values and principles that have proven important to their employees, customers and wider society during the pandemic.

Looking forward: some next steps

Looking ahead, organisations should avoid the temptation of reverting to business-as-usual or transforming too quickly. Instead, they should focus on building a more resilient future by doing three main things:

Perform a post-event review. Engage in an objective, dispassionate review of what happened and how you responded. In so doing, be prepared to ask difficult questions. At the same time, reflect on what worked well, what made you resilient and what you want to make part of your organisation’s DNA.

Re-imagine resilience. Understand what resilience means to you and what a resilient future might look like, financially, operationally, and reputationally. Define the core principles of resilience for your organisation and how might this be monitored, measured and governed. Consider how you can best address the tensions between the need to protect and control, learn and improve and at the same time be responsive and adaptive[2].

Plan for a resilient future. In the long-term, consider how you might build resilience in a more sustainable way, adopting key principles such as robustness, redundancy and resourcefulness in future strategy and decision-making. Build capability not just to survive, but thrive.

If you would like to discuss what a resilient future might look like or would just like to chew the cud on the issues raised in this blog, please contact lujones@deloitte.co.uk.

 

[1] Denyer, D. (2017), Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking. BSI and Cranfield School of Management.

[2] Denyer, D. (2017), ibid

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Lucy Jones

Lucy Jones

Senior Manager

Lucy is a Senior Manager in Deloitte’s Reputation, Crisis and Resilience team and a deep technical expert in Operational Resilience. She has 7 years’ experience helping large, global organisations to establish approaches and capabilities to manage disruptions to critical business operations and supporting technology. Before joining Deloitte, Lucy completed a PhD before working at the Centre for Science and Security Studies, working with government officials and industry, in the UK and internationally, in order to both inform practice and gather original empirical data in support of international security related research.