For Back to the Future fans, 21st October marked the day Marty McFly arrived in the future to be faced with flying cars and hover boards giving those of us around at the time an insight into what the world might be like. Whilst the film may have got a number of predicted outcomes wrong it certainly makes one consider the future and likely developments in industry. This also occurred to me whilst travelling along Europa Way in Sheffield recently as I cast a glance towards the iconic Factory 2050 development and started to ponder the changing face of manufacturing and specifically the risks that businesses now face.
Gone are the smokestacks; huge industrial cathedrals are inhabited by a fraction of the staff that once worked within. There is a reliance on international suppliers and supply chains are often long and complex. The political risks are increasingly unstable and the landscape has arguably not been as fragile since the height of the Cold War. The reliance on digitisation and the Internet of Things means businesses are now exposed to cyber risks that were impossible for most of us to imagine in the 1980s. The advent of nanotechnology, the use of new materials, such as graphene, and a host of new innovations mean that the world of manufacturing is moving at an incredibly fast pace and it’s unlikely to slow down soon.
Incredibly many risk management and insurance programs are stuck in the 1980s with policies and procedures which were conceived decades ago. Many businesses will continue to insure their tables and chairs whilst real asset value resides within their servers or possibly the cloud. Thieves no longer carry crowbars but are probably sitting on a lap top in a back bedroom.
Whilst you might not have a fleet of flying cars to insure or the next flux capacitor you may have state-of-the-art equipment, intellectual property or a reliance on computers and technology that could leave your business exposed if your arrangements aren’t future proofed! I am pretty sure Doc Brown would have something to say about that!