Every so often a new field of professional activity is created. Ten years ago app developers, data miners and educational admissions consultants didn’t exist – not by name, anyway. However, the new is sometimes in fact the rehashed or simply renamed. Marketing people know the power of sticking a “new” label on a product, whatever the real degree of innovation. What then is the situation with digital continuity, which is about ensuring that digital information remains complete, available and usable? Is it new or just a bit more organisational marketing? Should it be part of the business continuity remit or is it better positioned as a separate responsibility?
The trap is perhaps in the word “continuity”. Business continuity is often defined as the ability to continue operating normally in adverse circumstances. Digital continuity deals with the preservation of information for the years or decades to come. This may be for example for reasons of accountability and transparency. However, it does not necessarily have a positive or negative impact on operations. The two types of continuity share common elements. They both rely on information management and risk assessment, for instance. This makes them related. It does not necessarily justify bundling digital continuity in with business continuity.
Where then are the limits of business continuity? It would be easy to say that anything that affects operations, whether short term or long term, is of relevance to BC. It would then be perhaps too easy to build a BC empire that spanned the whole of an organisation, gobbling up all newcomers under the pretext of ensuring the organisation’s continuing health. Yet business continuity like quality is a valuable concept that underpins good performance, rather than being the sole focus of an enterprise. Improvements in business continuity then often simultaneously benefit several other parts of the organisation, like IT and digital continuity. This puts BC at the service of activities like digital continuity, not vice versa: altogether, a better approach for business success.