Creating business cyber-resilience: Taming the black swan in the digital age

Stuart Tait



Stuart Tait, Restructuring partner, Gateley


In the 16th Century everyone thought all swans were white. Everyone thought a black swan could not exist because all previous evidence supported this. It was unthinkable that a swan might be black. Right up until it wasn’t, when Dutch explorers found flocks of black swans in Western Australia.

A “black swan event” refers to a previously totally unanticipated event, far outside of normal experience, which has an extreme impact and which only after the event do people start to rationalise as predictable, with the benefit of hindsight.

The pace of technological change means that predicting and planning for risks in the digital age is incredibly challenging. What once might have been considered a digital “black swan”, such as a critical system failure, or a total loss of data, are now not just predictable but are commonplace. How do you protect against risks you can’t anticipate?

Gateley Plc holds its Northern Restructuring Conference this Wednesday, focusing on building business resilience in an ever-complex world. This will include a panel that brings together experts from the digital sector to consider the risks and opportunities for businesses in this fast-developing area.

Business resilience is about building a sufficiently robust structure that it is able to withstand risks and challenges, while adapting quickly and effectively to changing circumstances. Nowhere is this more relevant than for businesses operating online, or using technology, to augment their operations or open up new markets.

Exciting developments in technologies such as blockchain and machine learning allow existing processes to be made more secure and efficient. New routes to market are opening up – customer interaction and data capture interpretation are key. Consumer businesses are transforming radically, no longer simply selling a product to customers, but instead striving for a differentiated customer experience through data curation, to create a truly personal experience that builds loyalty.

Data management is increasingly important and while big data can be the key to unlocking customer relationships as outlined above, the risks of mishandling data have never been greater, especially with the advent of the GDPR. We have seen the damage that can be done to businesses that are not properly prepared, with even giants such as Facebook and Tesla falling foul, but failing to harness such information can mean falling behind competitors.

In a chaotic world where the reviews of “ordinary” individuals on social media become more important to selling a product than traditional methods of advertising, how does a Company successfully grow and protect its brand and market share? Crowdfunding creates opportunities for young and disruptive businesses to secure investment and for amateur and professional investors to deploy capital in more and diverse ways.

The panel at our conference will consider how to balance the competing tensions of regulation and ensuring businesses remain resilient and dynamic, while exploring how businesses can navigate these challenges to adapt to changing circumstances, as well as looking at the risks that come for those businesses that are not able to keep pace.

‘Restructuring Conference 2018: Creating business resilience in an ever-complex world’ will take place from 8am-2pm on Wednesday 31st October 2018 at the Hilton Hotel Deansgate, Manchester. The cost for a place at the conference is £85 +VAT per person, which includes lunch. CPD points will also be available. Book tickets here.