By Peter Hall, Horizon’s Chief Information Officer

Many of you will be aware of former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and his now famous, or infamous speech depending on your point of view, quoting ‘known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns’. Although the language he used could be considered torturous, his tenet was a good simplification of a complex situation. Of course, he left out a fourth option; perhaps for political reasons, perhaps simply because it sounded such a mouthful he feared ridicule. This fourth option would have been unknown knowns — knowledge of something that we do not want to know about.

This framing or analysis technique has long been used in project or risk management and its application can be seen in how businesses are dealing with the impact of Covid-19 as they are forced to face the unprecedented measures enacted globally in an attempt to break the chain of infection.

Could the risk of a coronavirus, or similar pathogen, be anticipated? Certainly. Could the scale of treatment plans for stopping the virus have been known? Probably. Could the global economic impact on all businesses have been known? Possibly. Could businesses have leveraged the Cloud to mitigate the potential risk to their business. Definitely.

This goes back to Secretary Rumsfeld’s much maligned ‘unknown unknowns’. In many business continuity practices of small and medium enterprises, no scope is given for handling large scale shocks. Covid-19 is a shock of unprecedented proportions. However, with careful planning and a judicious use of the Cloud, many SMEs would be able to handle such dramatic changes in working practices or at least offset some of its effects for some of their employees.

Most businesses right now are in 1 of 4 places: they had a business continuity plan in place that has allowed them to continue to operate; they had a business continuity plan in place that has failed; they did not have a business continuity plan in place at all but have escaped the worst of the impact; they did not have a business continuity plan and the business will fail to survive.

Horizon has employed a cloud-first strategy for many years. It would be mischievous to suggest that our plan explicitly included Coronavirus and the global injection of billions into the economy but we took the time to understand what benefits the Cloud could give a software and services company — what added scope it might bring to our business; what we could gain for handling the unknown unknowns. Furthermore, we understood our Cloud Providers business continuity plan and how we might need to react at a regional or global-level to shift operations and services with no service interruption. As a result we are proud to say we handled the shift to a remote office with no disruption to our productivity.

The focus on the Cloud has often been from a technical standpoint but as Covid-19 has demonstrated, it is actually more useful to think of it from a business point of view.

There is no time like the present to re-approach your business continuity plan and in our experience, your data management infrastructure goes hand in hand with its ability to succeed.

This is why we took careful consideration for the configuration and deployment of collaboration tools and security controls, including:

  • Risk assessment of common organizational collaboration and business process scenarios
  • Information protection and data governance requirements
  • Cybersecurity and insider threats
  • Regulatory compliance requirements

In doing this we realized the value our team of Wall Street and software pioneers with 25+ years of experience could add to other firms facing the same dilemma.

What we produced was Hosting Compliance, a risk-based data management and protection platform consisting of processes, procedures and cloud hosted products built to protect your firm’s sensitive data wherever it may go​.

To learn more, please visit To request a demo or if you have any questions, please email us at

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