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Bolstering organizational resilience in the age of hyperconnectivity

Future of risk in the digital era

Increased reliance on interconnected systems by organizations amplifies the impact of failure and threatens resilience.

Why is this trend important today?

This article is one of nine trends outlined in Deloitte's Future of risk in the digital era report. 

Organizations have begun moving critical infrastructure and processes to the cloud, enhancing operational awareness through sensors, and increasing touchpoints with the external ecosystem. Such changes to the operating environment increase complexity and fragility and expose organizations to a wide variety of unforeseen risks. These include increased dependence on third parties, and cascading failures as a single error may rapidly spread across a multitude of seemingly unrelated systems.

In addition, rapid expansion of the attack surface through the introduction of new systems, such as mobile devices and Internet of Things (IoT), is prompting organizations to rethink what organizational resilience means in the digital age.

Where has this trend had an impact?

  • Multiple websites experienced disruption due to an unforeseen outage at their service provider, causing millions in collective losses in market capitalization and decreased website performance.
  • Researchers remotely hacked cars connected to a cellular network that provided their onboard wireless services. The hackers were allegedly able to gain control over dashboard functions. This led to product recalls by the manufacturer.
  • A virus infected smart consumer devices—such as connected cameras and televisions—and enslaved them into botnets, bombarding servers with traffic until they collapsed. This impeded access to many popular websites across the United States for the better part of a day.


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What does this mean for organizations?

  • Reduced insight into resilience by organization leaders due to limited availability of monitoring tools and real-time dashboards that provide insight into operational continuity.
  • Increased fragility of systems created by stitching together services from a multitude of providers, often retrofitting legacy technology, incorporating open source components, or adopting agile development and operations (DevOps) models with frequent changes.
  • Difficulty in identifying potential points of failure and subsequent containment due to network complexity that makes risk modeling challenging.
  • Difficulty in technology recovery planning and response orchestration as a result of continually changing interdependencies due to rapidly evolving technologies and technology providers.
  • Increased dependence on third parties for testing resiliency protocols and restarting operations in cases of failures as critical processes begin to reside with a wide range of third parties.
  • Incidents escalating into crises and brand and reputation issues in the absence of coordinated response plans across organization boundaries.


How can organizations respond?

  • Devise a set of metrics that enable executives to monitor the effectiveness of the resilience program and build confidence in response and recovery.
  • Continuously monitor risks from interconnected systems using digital assessment tools capable of detecting issues before they escalate.
  • Design for organizational resilience by determining critical business services, support systems, applications, and third parties to plan for business continuity.
  • Design for redundancy and real-time automatic recovery rather than piecemeal, manual backup plans.
  • Conduct random, unannounced “unplug” tests to simulate failures to determine the resiliency of connected systems.
  • Practice incident response and recovery planning with service providers to train leaders, employees, and vendors to handle disruptive events appropriately.

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