Risk management: How to Define your strategy for agility and resilience in uncertain times

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Wilhelm Greeff, Business Manager: Modern Workplace at Decision Inc. South Africa


The effects of the global pandemic have permeated every facet of our professional and personal lives. How we approach work and how organisations view business fundamentals have irrevocably changed.

The pandemic has catalysed digital business initiatives with the focus shifting to adapting to the demands of employees, customers, and other stakeholders. The effects can be seen in every facet of business.  B2B buyers are happy to purchase digitally, foregoing the need for a sales representative. B2C consumers are buying directly off social media platforms, while employees are physically distributed and communicating asynchronously. And IT infrastructures must be kept secure regardless of how and from where employees are accessing systems. Resilience has become more of an enterprise priority than ever before. According to research:

  • 69% of executive leaders say their recent significant decisions were not sufficiently risk informed.
  • 90% of risk leaders say emerging risks are much more interdisciplinary today than they were five years ago.
  • 65% of risk leaders rank resilience among the top three risk areas they are prioritising due to the pandemic.

Effectively balance security and risk decisions

All this has contributed to the exponential increase of the volume, variety, and speed of security and risk decisions that need to be made. To effectively balance the competing demands of the always on business landscape, risk management must be a proactive and an integral part of the decision-making process. By understanding the potential risks and impacts of each decision, businesses can make informed choices that protect their interests and objectives. Effective risk management can also enable companies to identify and mitigate potential threats before they occur. By taking such a proactive approach to risk management, organisations can safeguard their operations and ensure their long-term success.

Successfully communicate risks to senior executives

This is where security professionals must be able to effectively communicate risk to senior executives. Of course, it is not without its challenges as it requires the person to distil complex technical information into plain language and present it in a way that resonates with the unique priorities of each executive. Fortunately, there are certain steps to make this communication more successful.

Firstly, it is important to understand the risk management priorities of each executive. This will help focus on the risks that are most relevant to each individual. Secondly, jargon and overly technical language must be avoided. Instead, security professionals must consider how to clearly explain the potential impacts of each risk in terms the relevant executives will understand. Finally, it is important to be honest and transparent about the risks and mitigating controls in place.

By following these steps, security professionals can more effectively communicate risk to senior executives and ensure they are able to make informed decisions about how best to approach the risk management priorities of the organisation

Security programmes need to be digital business enablers

As companies start to move towards digital operations, security programmes must also be kept updated with the demands of the connected environment. Security risks are evolving, and businesses must adapt their risk management strategies accordingly. However, many security programmes are still focused on traditional threats, such as physical security and data breaches.

While these threats are still important, they are no longer the only risks. To become true digital business enablers, security programmes must be assessed and transformed to address the new risks associated with digital operations. Considerations include ensuring that data is secure both online and offline, protecting against cyberattacks, and implementing risk management processes that can keep up with the speed of digital change.

By taking these steps, security programmes can help companies across industry sectors thrive in the digital age.

Prepare for continuous change in the risk landscape

As part of the renewed security approach, risk management is an essential component for success. Technology is constantly evolving, and new threats are always emerging. As a result, organisations need to be prepared for continuous change in the risk landscape and have greater awareness of the threats they face. Therefore, companies need to have the systems and processes in place to identify and manage these risks accordingly. Business leaders must be prepared to adapt their risk management strategies accordingly. By taking these steps, organisations can ensure that they are able to thrive in the face of ever-changing risk.

Overcome the barriers of business talent to grow and scale your digital initiatives

Throughout navigating the complexities of all the security and risk challenges, companies still need to grow and scale their digital initiatives. One of the most significant barriers to accomplishing this is organisational culture.

In many cases, traditional organisations are risk-averse, preferring to play it safe rather than experiment with novel approaches. This can make it difficult to introduce digital innovations that require a certain amount of risk-taking. Additionally, these organisations may lack the resources and talent necessary to support a digital transformation. Without the right people in place, it can be difficult to implement and scale new digital initiatives. Finally, even if an organisation can overcome these barriers, there is no guarantee of success. Any initiative faces the risk of failure, and this must be managed effectively to prevent costly mistakes. With careful planning and execution, organisations can successfully overcome the challenges involved in growing and scaling their digital initiatives.

This requires leadership to be more willing to adapt to the changes required as the organisations transform into digitally driven businesses. Risk management can be a significant enabler to unlock the value to be had from the new world of work.

Our Risk Management Portal has been created to meet the current digital risk needs of organisations today. View our Risk Management Portal Webpage to get more insights.