Detect, Focus, Invest: How Australian Organisations Can Avoid Pre-pandemic (Un) Preparedness

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Despite more than two years of a pandemic and a steady stream of unprecedented natural climate disasters, business resiliency remains a low priority for Australian businesses, which leaves them more vulnerable to high-impact events.

A recent study commissioned by Dataminr and conducted by Antenna interviewed 300 Australian corporate security decision makers and uncovered how businesses have responded to these previously unprecedented events in Australia, as well as how they have mitigated risk of high impact events and adapted over the last 18 months.

The study found that a third of businesses are still not confident in identifying risks and business impacting events in real time. Less than one in every five organisations strongly agree that they have the ability to comprehensively and continuously assess indicators of risk that will impact their business.

Before the pandemic, two in three of the organisations had continuity plans in place, but only half of the plans included a pandemic scenario. Even organisations with pandemic plans were still left vulnerable to the cascading risks of COVID-19, including supply chain issues, staffing shortages and increasing cyber attacks.

The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to surface and chief among them is the need to improve risk preparedness as it plays a critical role in ensuring business resiliency.

When looking at the findings, they elucidate a few key things about Australian organisations’ ability to navigate the ever changing risk landscape. Firstly, businesses need to be better able to detect risk; second, they need to focus on the right risks, and finally, they need to invest to mitigate further risk.

Detecting risks and disruptive events

The study showed 75 percent of organisations believe that business risks have dramatically increased, yet a third are still not confident about their ability to identify risks and events in real time. On top of this, only 19% strongly agree that their organisation has the ability to comprehensively and continuously discover risk indicators that may impact their business.

This is concerning given that the importance of identifying and reacting to business risks in as close to real time as possible has grown exponentially. As well, we’re seeing the types of risks organisations are faced with, and are growing in complexity. Corporate security leaders can stay ahead of such risks with real-time alerting tools like Dataminr Pulse.

With a real-time alerting tool like Pulse, the likes of Australian corporate security customers are able to know about oncoming risks and events first. Following, they have the foresight to react with greater agility to threats and crises, well ahead of traditional public information sources. Through our platform, many customers have reduced the financial damage associated with being unprepared for major crises and disruptions and it’s something we recognise more Australian businesses need to be cognisant of.

Focusing on the right risks

Over the past two years, Australian businesses have mostly built resilience around responding to and facing COVID-19 risks. What this caused however was a significant blindspot - attention must also be paid to the plethora of other risks that continue to threaten business operations and continuity.

The study found that Australian corporate security leaders prioritised risk like this:

  • COVID-19 related risks, 67% saw it as a key threat
  • Staff retention, 45%
  • Supply chain disruption, 40%
  • Cyber crime, 40%
  • Climate change, 25%
  • Unknown risk, 20%

Unknown risks are those that have not yet come to light, something businesses will continue to face. While they are hard to anticipate, Australian corporate security leaders can gain the upper hand by embedding real-time information tools into their workflows so they can easily spot such risks and determine the potential impact of each.

Investing in risk management

Sixty-four percent of Australian organisations are confident that they have what they need to effectively manage risk in 2022, yet we found almost a third have made no investment in risk resilience. This reveals a significant disconnect between what businesses have invested in (or not) and the level of confidence each has compared to the reality of the market.

This gap puts Australian businesses at risk of returning to pre-pandemic levels of unpreparedness. It’s simply not enough to believe the right risk management strategies and capabilities are in place. Instead, risk management needs to be viewed as an investment with strong pay-off. Significant investment in risk management tools and strategies is a must if organisations are to have the flexibility and preparedness needed to remain resilient in the face of known and unknown risks.

Also key is how responsibility for risk management is distributed throughout an organisation. Seventy-two percent of Australian organisations have given existing employees additional risk management roles and responsibilities and 71 percent have created a risk management team.

This is a positive sign. It indicates Australian businesses are relying less on external experts and resources (50% hired external professionals), choosing instead to focus on upskilling employees and spreading responsibility for risk management across multiple functions.

While these changes in Australian businesses are shifts in the right direction towards business resiliency, the study highlights the deficits experienced by such businesses will require active changes in strategy and business planning so that businesses can be fully resilient to high-impact events. 

Even after two years of living through a pandemic, the discrepancy between what Australian businesses understand of business resiliency and the necessary efforts in place shows that there is still a way to go before Australian organisations can claim full confidence in their capability to be totally resilient.

To learn more about the study’s findingsincluding the five ways Australian corporate security leaders can build risk resilience and confidence in 2022read the full report.

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