Cyber attacks and severe weather events dominate resilience experts’ risk landscapes for 2024

  • 14 Nov 2023

BCI Horizon Scan Report 2023

The BCI is pleased to launch the BCI Horizon Scan Report 2023 — a highly anticipated report which examines the incidents that have occurred in organizations over the past year, as well as those of most concern for 2024. 

The report uses survey responses and structured interviews with senior resilience professionals to provide an in-depth analysis of this critical area.

2023’s most disruptive events

In 2023, the top disruption for organizations was occupational health incidents, as organizations reported a considerable increase in sickness absences due to occurrences such as stress, depression, and anxiety amongst employees. While the impact of this threat is lower than the other top ten th
reats this year, its high frequency means it tops the list of disruptive events in 2023. The current level of work-related health issues is now higher than those observed pre-pandemic in 2018/19. 

The landscape of disruptions changes when analysing with a regional lens: with extreme weather events topping the list of disruptive events in North America and Asia in 2023. Indeed, with China recording an all-time heat record of 52.2°C in July, and the northern hemisphere experiencing its hottest ever summer on record, such concerns are hardly surprising.

While it is important to analyse impacts for horizon scanning purposes, looking at the consequences of these impacts provides deeper insight into the level of damage that a disruption can cause. The greatest impact of disruption this year has been a loss of productivity, rising from second place in 2022. Both health incidents and lost productivity emphasise the importance of the human factor in ensuring an organization’s resilience. 

Looking ahead to next year

Non-occupational disease/pandemic is no longer a high concern for organizations, slipping from second place in 2022 to 21st in the 2023 report. Cyber attacks are now firmly top of the list when it comes to the 2024 risk landscape as attacks continue to grow, attack vectors shift, and AI threatens to make the cyber security landscape even more complex. However, while this shifting of non-occupational disease/pandemic to a near-bottom position on the table might be expected, it does emphasise the importance of ensuring that risks which are no longer top of mind are not neglected. Pandemic, for example, is still one of the greatest risks for 2024 according to the UK National Risk Register 2023 and neglecting it in planning, training, and exercising could leave organizations’ resilience exposed.

Climbing the rankings from sixth to second this year and, symptomatic of the rise in related events in 2023, extreme weather events are a significant concern for organizations and are now second in the risk index for 2024.

On top of this, organizations are expecting a continued struggle with the impacts of the increased cost of living, a top risk in 2023 and occupying a similar spot for the coming 12 months as well. 

Top 10 risks for organizations in 2024 (as defined by respondents to the BCI Horizon Scan 2023 survey):

Rank Event 
1 Cyber attacks
2 Extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, freeze, etc.)
3 IT and telecom outage
4 Increased cost of living
5 Interruption to energy supply
6 Supply chain disruption
7 Natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.)
8 Data breaches
9 Critical Infrastructure failure
10 Introduction of new technology (IoT, AI, Big data)

The BCI Horizon Scan Report 2023 is sponsored by Noggin.

After a year of record-breaking weather events, together with escalating global conflicts and fiscal challenges, it is not surprising to see that practitioners’ view of the 2024 risk landscape has been reworked from the previous edition of this report. COVID-19 taught the industry lessons in the importance of being prepared for the unexpected and it is refreshing to see these lessons being adopted into practice. However, with non-occupational disease/pandemic dropping nearly to the bottom of the risk table for 2024, we need to remember to not become blinkered because new risks are infiltrating the risk landscape. We must not ignore things that are still likely to happen but which have faded in importance.

Rachael Elliott

Head of Thought Leadership, The BCI

While we move out of the long shadow of the pandemic, we move into a new era of consecutive, concurrent, and compounding crises. This new era requires that practitioners marshal many of the tools they built to ensure collaboration and coordination in response and deploy them in an even more complex risk environment. It is heartening to note that some of that work is being successfully undertaken. However, with the fluidity inherent in the present risk landscape and anticipation of even more in the year to come, organisations must do more to embrace a comprehensive and holistic approach to resilience. To that end, we at Noggin are thrilled to partner with BCI and sponsor this year’s Horizon Scan Report. Such resources are truly invaluable to practitioners seeking to build a solid culture of resilience.

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James Boddam-Whetham

Chief Executive Officer, Noggin

Download BCI Horizon Scan Report 2023


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