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Risk management in 2021 - what you need to know

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Risk management in 2021 - what you need to know

From bushfires to the global pandemic, the large-scale, unforeseen events in 2020 have put a spotlight on the importance of robust risk management strategies like never before.

Inarguably, the pandemic forced organisations to reimagine their approach to managing and mitigating risk. The cascading events since then unearthed several trends that we were already seeing on the backend such as the expansion of the variety and growing complexity of the risk landscape, and the need for greater, but less siloed preparedness within organisations. 

We live in an interconnected world where one seemingly small event can impact a wide range of business operations and potentially put people, assets, and any business continuity planning at risk. 

Business continuity strategies cannot be effective if it doesn't take into account new, highly unpredictable environments. With that being said, key decision makers must take proactive steps to map out long term risks beyond the immediate COVID-19 situation.

Planning for the risks that might impact us next year also means fostering more collaboration across the business -- in particular with the IT group and manager of risk across functions - to build proactive risk strategies that can build long-term resilience.

2021: planning for predictable risks in an unpredictable environment

It is largely impossible to avoid risk, however organisations can both better manage ongoing crises and conduct stress tests for the unimaginable.

From bushfires and pandemics to data breaches and social media fallouts, there are a multitude of factors that could put your operations, assets and people in jeopardy. The following are prime examples.

Trans-Tasman and Pacific travel bubble

As we slowly open up to the rest of the world - starting with our Trans-Tasman and Pacific neighbours, organisations across Australia will be subjected to a wide range of risks relating to employee travel, transport, local public health regulations and governance. It is important they plan for those so there are minor disruptions to their operations and so they don’t have to face another major COVID-19-related crisis.

Supply chain and third party risk

As organisations looked at other solutions and partners to keep their businesses running in 2021, supply chains have had to adapt  and a new variety of third parties - including digital solution partners - have entered their ecosystems to enable new, more effective ways of working.

Bushfires, floods and more

Every year, the same set of environmental risks hit Australia. Yet, every year it seems organisations are underprepared for the impact on their operations, assets and people. As more environmental catastrophes like the 2020 bushfires and floods will likely occur in the coming years, decision-makers ought to ask and assess what lessons can learn from past events and how we can better prepare for next time around. Identifying these gaps that allowed for poor circumstances will inform how to best move forward. 

Hybrid working models

The move to remote or hybrid working models has created a new area of risk that organisations will need to perfect by 2021. Many didn’t have a choice but to rush to establish  work from home policies to quickly transition and maintain momentum, but now we are slowly starting to see long term risks associated with those changes including cyber security and data privacy challenges across multiple home locations, physical security and overall employee safety, which if unaddressed will likely hinder organisations in more ways than one in the coming years.

Breaking down the risk silos and introducing real-time information: an important role for technology leaders to play

From HR and Operations to Marketing and Sales - risk management must become a shared responsibility across function leaders.

Business leaders must take proactive steps in fostering a collaborative environment for its decision-makers to best mitigate crises that may affect each function differently. With a collaborative approach, businesses are able to be more proactive instead of consistently reactive to various types of crises and emerging risks.

Scenario testing needs to be a core part of the new normal, and it is important for all team managers to be involved in mapping those scenarios out for the year ahead.

Breaking down these silos and capitalising on advanced technologies such as real-time alerts is what will power more digital preparedness, business adaptability and agility and overall support business resilience moving forward.

Ed Pullen is Director at Dataminr ANZ

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