2017 was a bumpy ride. There’s no doubt about it. But for some, it was bumpier than others – in fact, for one business in particular, 2017 started on a £4.6bn statutory pre-tax loss. Not a great way to go into a New Year. We take a look back at some of the business disasters of last year, and the lessons they taught the business community.


Disasters spur action

2017 was a year of natural disasters in the form of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the California wild fires, deadly earthquakes in Mexico, to name just a few. And unfortunately, as much as we like to think differently, the old anecdote rings true – things are only done when the going gets tough. However, with these disasters almost becoming the norm on our news screens every day, the business community has woken up to the fact that pre-planning, and risk management sets them up for inevitable disaster, when it strikes, leaving many less exposed, and with a stronger footing to regroup and rebuild. According to a recent poll conducted by Marsh.com, the majority of the business community polled have implemented actions to review and re-evaluate its emergency response plans as a direct result of 2017’s catastrophes.


Business continuity becomes top focus

In the same poll taken by Marsh.com, attendees were asked which areas related to catastrophe-planning would their organisation most benefit from spending time on within the next year. Overwhelmingly, the majority of those polled stated that protecting their people and property during a disaster and getting them quickly functioning again was the most important priority for them as an organisation. This included re-evaluating insurance coverage, supply chain resilience and personnel preparedness.


Two stones, two birds: a Double Pepsi Whammy Disaster

Pepsi’s failed advertising campaign in 2017 attempting to spread the message of “global unity of peace and understanding” culminated in a shocking uproar of contempt as they depicted Kendall Jenner leaving a photoshoot and joining a protest in an attempt to join a movement. But what the advert actually did, according to widespread criticism, was to trivialise recent protests, including the Black Lives Matter movement. Pepsi eventually did pull the advert and issue an apology – not towards those it offended, but towards Kendall Jenner and the discomfort it caused her ‘image’ – causing even further backlash. The lessons learnt? Know your audience, understand your subject matter, do your market research – and if things do go wrong, address the issue where it lies – not where you think it may be and hope for the best.


Cybersecurity and Equifax

For a giant credit reporting agency like Equifax, one would think that they’d take the issue of cybercrime, and cybersecurity seriously. Unfortunately, 2017 saw a rather disastrous breach of security occur for them when hackers gained access to sensitive personal data — Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses — for up to 143 million Americans. A rather substantial problem for a firm that serves as one of the three major clearinghouses for Americans’ credit histories. First mistake – not having the right protection in place. However, the story doesn’t end there. Equifax made their fatal mistake of failing to report it for months after and then, rather than offering some sort of compensation to its victims, they offered them a free year of one of their services, in return for apparently “signing away their right to retaliate”.


If there’s anything to learn from Disaster – Natural, or otherwise – it’s that there will always be the unexpected that has the ability to change, challenge and even devastate our communities. And although it may feel like complete loss – there is a lot that can be done to build an agile approach to coping with change. And that starts with you, today.

Whether you need to develop a corporate culture that can handle the onslaught of quick expectation and change, or whether it’s time to re-evaluate your digital risk, that is something that you can do. If you’re ready to build a more resilient organisation, then it’s time to talk to us.