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Charting a resilience roadmap for 2021

Four ways to reimagine the next normal

After a year of social, economic and geopolitical upheaval, resilience has emerged as the theme of 2021. Business leaders recognise resilience as the bedrock needed to withstand the shockwaves of disruption. But organisations also understand resilience is a foundation for uncovering new opportunities.

Enhanced awareness of this strategic imperative informs the data and insights in PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021. Between August 2020 and January of this year, more than 2,800 business leaders shared how they’ve responded and what they’ve learned during the pandemic. Representing 73 countries and 29 industries, their observations create a compelling portrait of the tactics, tools and processes organisations put in place, and what’s worked, what hasn’t and why.

Looking ahead, leaders that apply the experience of the past year to build resilience and reimagine the future are the ones that will thrive. And the outlook is positive: 80 percent of UK organisations are confident they can apply what they’ve learned.

Drawing on the findings from the survey and our extensive work with clients to prepare for disruption, manage issues and crises and emerge stronger, we believe there are four ways organisations can build resilience for what’s next.

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PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021

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1. Organisational resilience requires senior sponsorship

As business leaders worldwide assess their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a renewed focus on organisational resilience. Half of Global Crisis Survey respondents have had discussions on organisational resilience and plan to identify enhancements in the near future.

Many business leaders recognise that their resilience-focused teams, prior to the crisis, were too far removed from the C-suite. Organisations are shifting to establish governance around resilience at the highest levels: designating a senior leader to ‘sponsor’ the resilience program and creating steering committees to oversee the program’s funding, resources and authority to be successful.

Significantly, organisations are focusing on improving resilience capabilities not just for the benefit of shareholders, but to reduce the impact of disruption on consumers, customers and clients.

More than 2,800 business leaders shared how they’ve responded and what they’ve learned during the pandemic.

2. Breaking down silos: an integrated approach is essential to executing a successful crisis management program and to building resilience

Among organisations that are prioritising enhancements to organisational resilience, there is a focus on integrating business continuity, crisis management and disaster recovery. Business leaders recognise that these areas should not be considered in isolation, but rather as interlinked disciplines that enable organisations to successfully navigate disruption.

The goal is to understand an organisation’s risk landscape and proactively mitigate potential threats early in their life cycle. Where this isn’t possible, it’s important to plan for disruption (business continuity), but prepare for unprecedented or extraordinary situations (crisis). In each case, the recovery process enables organisations to return to a sustainable operating state and even leverage opportunities associated with disruption to emerge stronger.

Approaching these disciplines as interconnected is more important than ever, particularly as remote working increases the importance of clear decision-making channels and fuels the risk of cyber attacks.

80% of UK organisations are confident they can apply what they’ve learned.

3. Focus on continuous improvement by investing in your people and technology

If companies have not already undertaken a lessons learned exercise, now is the time to examine their response to COVID-19 and integrate lessons learned in order to better prepare for future disruptions. Only 44 percent of UK organisations have conducted an after action review (AAR), underscoring the importance of two key takeaways from the Global Crisis Survey.

First, more than 95 percent of UK business leaders report that their crisis management capabilities need improvement. Organisations are recognising the need to secure the appropriate skills, competencies and personal resilience required for their crisis teams to lead effectively under pressure.

And second, as a result of their response to the pandemic, 68 percent of UK organisations are investing in technology, demonstrating its critical role in helping organisations anticipate, prepare and respond to issues and crises.

More than 95% of UK business leaders report that their crisis management capabilities need improvement.

4. A new approach to a data-driven crisis response is required

Organisations are increasingly expected to make pivotal decisions quickly, informed by easily accessible, accurate and thorough data. But more than a third of UK organisations have had difficulty gathering data or information to inform and support their response to COVID-19 -- specifically their decision-making and communication to stakeholders.

The recognition of data-driven tools and processes as an imperative is accelerating a pre-pandemic trend: organisations are becoming tech and data organisations, regardless of their line of business. With this comes greater need for leaders to consider the role data plays in a crisis management program. Indeed, according to PwC’s 24th Annual CEO Survey, most organisations have found technology and digital channels critical to survival during the pandemic.

Organisations need a crisis-specific data strategy that addresses the types of data sources that might be required, how they're accessed and how they can be analysed at pace during a crisis response.

As a result of their response to the pandemic, 68% of UK organisations are investing in technology.

Contact us

Melanie Butler

Melanie Butler

Partner, Digital & Forensic Investigations, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7801 216737

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles

Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles

Crisis and Resilience Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 422701

Stella Nunn

Stella Nunn

Director, Crisis and Resilience, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7932 144627

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