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Charlie discusses the emerging use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and looks at what changes it can make within your organisation and the positives and possible downsides of using AI.
 
I came across an article on AI and business continuity a couple of days ago. The article had a number of links in it, and in a moment, I seem to have read six or seven articles on AI. So this week, I thought I would set out my thoughts on the subject. This is still very much a work in progress for me, so these are my initial thoughts.

What I found interesting about the articles I read was quite a lot of pontification about the huge changes AI was going to make to business continuity. The article on the Disaster Recovery Journal website, ‘Business Continuity Management and Artificial Intelligence’, by Suminda Jayasundera, was typical of the articles I read. He predicted that AI could be used to great effect in the following areas:

  1. Real-time monitoring and analysis
  2. Predictive analysis
  3. Automating key processes
  4. Testing and refining BCM plans
  5. Enhanced decision-making

Some of the areas he, and others, predicted are already in place. Tools are in place and have been for a number of years, which can monitor media and social media, and determine sentiment – warning the organisations of any major changes. Data sets have been used for looking for risks and trying to determine their likelihood. What I found frustrating, and perhaps even more telling, was that all the articles focused on predictions rather than real-life experiences. There was a lack of first-hand accounts discussing how organisations were effectively utilising AI to enhance their business continuity efforts. Additionally, none of the articles mentioned anyone being replaced by AI, or experiencing changes in their job roles.

If there are lots of predictions about what AI might be able to do for us and how it might change our industry, it is not having a large effect at the moment. What I do think is coming, is a ‘tsunami of change’, which is going to change our industry, whether you are a practitioner or a consultant. Don’t tell anyone – but as most of us know – business continuity conceptually is not that difficult, and the basics are pretty simple. What AI is going to do is make business continuity more accessible and easier to implement.

Over the past six months, I’ve been experimenting with Chat GPT and gradually discovering its capabilities. It has proven to be quite proficient in certain business continuity tasks. If you provide it with any phrase, concept, or term, it can provide a clear explanation. It is also capable of generating a plan when requested, given additional information such as names, Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs), resources, and other organisational details. While the resulting plan may not be exceptional, the plans it produces are functional and workable. I have even uploaded a plan and asked Chat GPT to evaluate it against the Good Practice Guidelines 2018 and ISO 22301, both times yielding reasonable results and conclusions. Moreover, it has assisted me in generating potential issues and injects for an exercise focused on hospital evacuation. Again, I needed to tailor the results, but it gave a number of ideas which we hadn’t initially thought of. We have also used it for generating a newspaper article for a MITS – our media and social media simulator – which we use during exercises. I have even started using it to generate disaster pictures for news articles. Figure 1. is my first attempt to burn down Buckingham Palace. I also use AI to check articles and to proofread my work. I have to be careful that it doesn’t change it too much, but it saves someone else from rereading my bulletins.

Figure 1 – A burning Buckingham Palace created through AI At a low-level I am using AI to save time, speed up work, and do mundane tasks which someone else, or I, would have to do. It is not replacing the consultant or practitioner, but it is making their life easier. You still need to check the output of the work as AI does not always get it right and sentences need to be rewritten, articles changed, and documents reviewed. I think the poor or low-level consultant or parishioner may be squeezed out, as the basic tasks which they are presently doing can be done by AI. Why pay £1000 a day for a consultant when AI can do the job, or produce the plan within seconds!

It would be nice if you could let AI loose on an organisation and it would analyse and then do the BIA, produce the plan, and then exercise it, but at the moment I think this is more of a pipe dream. I think some of Suminda’s ideas will come true, but I think they are far off, and as far as I can read, people are not using AI in the ways he envisaged.

I will let AI have the last word and write the conclusion to this bulletin.

In conclusion, while AI holds promise for enhancing business continuity practices, it is not currently making professionals in the field redundant. While AI can assist with certain tasks and streamline processes, it lacks the expertise and critical thinking capabilities of human practitioners. The role of business continuity professionals remains crucial in providing analysis, adaptation, and oversight to ensure the effectiveness of continuity plans. As AI continues to develop, it may bring changes to the industry, but for now, human involvement and judgement remain essential components of successful business continuity management.

I don’t think this is a bad conclusion and perhaps I should have gone to AI to write the whole article in the first place and make myself redundant!
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