Keynote speaker and facilitator at this year’s BCI Executive Forum, Dr James Bellini sets the scene and identifies some of the major issues that will face business continuity professionals in the years ahead:
As a futurologist of many years’ standing I am regularly confronted with requests to ‘predict’ the outcome of some activity or development in the world of tomorrow. On occasion I’m even asked the name of the winner of an important upcoming horse race, or the score line of a major soccer match a few weeks hence. If only my crystal ball were that magical ... but it also reveals a basic misunderstanding of what futurology is all about.
I see my task as threefold: to apply a reality check on popular perceptions of the world around us, to create a framework for examining how ‘the future’ might unfold and to identify one or two possible future events or issues that would, if they actually occurred, pose very serious challenges for either business, government or the wider society – or all of these together.
A key tool of the futurologist is the ‘scenario’, in effect a way of thinking about a range of ‘possible’ futures that would have major implications for the way the world works in five, ten or fifteen years from now. To be of any value these scenarios should have a degree of realistic plausibility about them. A Star Trek future of brain transplants and off-world vacation resorts might offer a wacky or romantic vision of life in the 23rd century, but is of little use to decision-makers keen to understand what environment they may have to deal with over the decade ahead. A ‘relevant’ future timeline of perhaps a dozen years at most is the backdrop against which business continuity professionals must arrange their thinking about the risks, pitfalls and options of a changing world.
I will use my opening session to explore the emerging new realities of tomorrow, offering a range of ‘possible’ futures that would – if any of them materialised – change the rules that shape the nature of crises and threats to reputation. For example, it is clear the ‘geography’ of global business will undergo a fundamental shift in the years ahead – but in which direction? What, to take a liberty with syntax, might be the where of tomorrow’s potential crisis situations?
Other scenarios will consider the impact new technologies might have in the years ahead. How (and where) might homes and businesses, neighbourhoods, cities and even entire countries function in the ‘smart’ world of the 2020s? The social benefits may be immense, but with ever more technology in our lives, will it also bring more risks to everyday continuity?
And what are the implications for crisis management of an increasingly connected, online, digital universe. How is this changing the way information is originated, managed, distributed and owned? What if the internet collapses, or the social media revolution takes an unforeseen change of direction, or people simply grow bored with their digital lives and dump the devices and networks that are now the backbone of business, government and everyday life? What if...?
With the theme 'a new horizon', the BCI Executive Forum takes place on the 21st and 22nd May at the Marriott Hotel in Amsterdam. For further information or to book your place, click here.