2019 State of Business Continuity Report
What’s going on in the world of business continuity? The answer always seems to be “A lot.” You need to do a lot to make sure your organization is ready. There is a lot of things that can (and most likely will) go wrong. There are a lot of things that could delay returning to business as usual.
We designed this report to make business continuity planning a little bit less overwhelming. Use the clickable table of contents below to jump to different areas of this report on the state of business continuity. You can jump back up to the table at any time by clicking “Back to Top.”
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About This Report
This report helps answer some of the most pressing questions BC professionals have, including:
- How prepared do professionals feel compared to last year?
- What’s the most important thing for BC professionals to focus on in 2019?
- Are cybersecurity, extreme weather, and natural disasters still the three biggest business continuity risks?
- What are the leading ways to mitigate this year’s biggest anticipated risks?
- What processes are most valuable for BC & DR professionals?
Before we dive into the most actionable insights for 2019, let’s quickly review who took our second annual survey. Like last year, professionals from a wide variety of industries shared their input and examples from their everyday lives. 22 industries were represented in this year’s survey, which is nearly double that of last year. Some of the most popular industries again were finance, insurance, and healthcare.
A Hopeful 2019 Outlook
Our survey found that 3/4 of professionals feel they are better prepared to handle BC & DR activities in 2019 compared to last year.
Respondents attributed this optimistic outlook to better technology, plans, training, and management. Another big driver includes learning from real-life experiences. 2018 was no stranger to frequent and disruptive organizational events. As one respondent put it: “Exercising and incorporating lessons learned from real world incidents,” will be a large area of focus for the industry as we move through 2019.
One thing that is stable in the realm of business continuity are the threats and emergencies that worry you most. Like last year, cybersecurity security, extreme weather events, and natural disasters yet again nabbed the first, second, and third place position for the most important emergency types.
Those in the business continuity sphere are worrying more about cybersecurity and severe weather than last year. There were increases in the number of respondents who ranked cybersecurity security and extreme weather events as their number one threats. The percentage rose from approximately 48.5% to nearly 53% and around 18% to nearly 22% respectively.
Cybersecurity and Business Continuity
If you’re still on the fence about cybersecurity, you’re alone. 100% of our respondents indicated they have more concern (approximately 70%) or the same amount of concern (approximately 30%) regarding cybersecurity security compared to last year.
While those surveyed overwhelmingly felt that all aspects of cybersecurity are high priority for their organization this year, they have specific areas of focus that are different from what you might be used to. Traditionally, business continuity interruptions were classified as events such as natural disasters, power outages, or technical failures. Now, the most worrisome cyber events are crossing over into the territory of business continuity. Here are the concerns that worried our survey-takers the most and their suggested actions:
Environmental Risk Breakdown
The second and third biggest threats right behind cybersecurity are extreme weather events and natural disasters. It makes sense that our respondents ranked these two risks above other disruptions like active shooter risk and supply chain disruption. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, there were 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2018 the U.S. alone.
Of these disasters, some of the most impactful were the severe storm events in May. Severe storms make up 42.7% of all billion-dollar events to affect the U.S. from 1980 to 2018 and almost always included lightning. Damages due to lightning, hail, and downbursts are some of the easiest to avoid. That’s because there are advanced warning and alerting systems that can help move people and equipment to safety before severe storms become a threat.
Biggest Weather Risks
When asked which weather events and natural disaster require the most planning, our respondents chose flooding. Hurricanes came in close second place, with winter weather closing out the top three.
Since wildfires are more of a regional impact, we’re not surprised they didn’t’ come in the top three. However, it is important to note that nearly 40% of respondents still believe that business continuity professionals need more tools for better wildfire response management.
SEVERE WEATHER PLANNING
Nearly 80% of all respondents either plan on increasing or are considering increasing weather planning for business continuity this year. Only 20% of respondents answered with a hard “no.” The number of people not considering increased weather and climate planning and tools has plummeted over 50% since last year. It seems most organizations are taking weather threats more seriously than ever before.
How do your peers plan to be better prepared for these costly and impactful events? Those surveyed indicated crisis management communication (57%), severe weather education and training (43%), and adding weather impacts to business continuity plans (32%) as the top three planning areas.
Integrate to Mitigate
While cybersecurity, extreme weather events, and natural disasters are the most worrisome threats for professionals across the U.S., they aren’t the only ones. So how do you prepare for anything and everything?
One of the biggest trends when it comes to improving the state of BC this year is integrating different types of information to make your organization more intelligent and therefore more prepared. According to our respondents, the three most important types of information you should include in your business continuity plan this year are:
- Detailed plans and procedures for each risk
- Employee and personnel resources
- Information Technology
It’s easy to see how these mitigations work together. For example, a detailed weather safety plan would have to include employee contact information and a solid plan for IT protection in the case of a power outage.
Training in 2019
Our respondents ranked training and education as the most important activities towards ensuring preparedness above things like industry conferences and events, data backup and recovery, and emergency communications. So what should you be training your staff on?
Nearly 62% of respondents believe that training regarding the implementation of your BCP deserves the most focus, while employees also require reviewing crisis management protocols and working on interdepartmental awareness of recovery plans.
Business Impact Assessment (BIA)
WHERE DO YOU STAND ON BIAs?
This year, our survey also focused on the state of Business Impact Assessments or BIAs. Over the past few years, it’s come to our understanding that the stance on BIAs changes dramatically from organization to organization. Some publications refer to it as the “heart” of disaster recovery planning, but how often do professionals even practice this analysis?
Not surprisingly nearly 60% of all respondents indicated they perform a BIA at least every once each year since BIAs seem to be an industry best practice. A little over 20% of respondents conduct this assessment not even once per year. Some respondents indicated it’s on a 3 or 6-year plan while others explained they perform a BIA on a by-need basis.
It was surprising to us to find out that around 9% of respondents weren’t sure of the frequency of this process. This is something we’d like to keep an eye on going forward.
The Value of BIAs
We found the answers to our next question a bit more illuminating. Less than half of those surveyed agree that they’re definitely gaining value from conduction BIAs.
Around 20% of respondents admitted that they’re “not really” or “not at all” gaining value from this process. When analyzing our written responses, there were a few explanations that stood out. One respondent indicated that only IT gains value from their BIAs so they can “use as finger pointing” after an emergency. Another respondent noted that BIAs are not a “robust approach” and there is “not enough information gathered or analysis performed.
This leads us to ask… are BIAs really valuable anymore? And who do they serve?
Before closing our survey, we asked respondents what they think is the most important thing for business continuity professionals to focus on in 2019. While we received a variety of answers, we thought the following would be the most useful to keep in the back of your head as you tackle 2019 and its challenges.
Advice From Industry Peers
Whether it’s BIAs of another processes, make sure you’re assessing your threats at least on an annual basis. From a weather perpsective, we find this very important for sites taht have been compromised by floods, fires, or other environmetnal events over the past year.
“With the ever-present danger of events happening more frequently, BC professioanls should always go back to the risks within their area and review them on an annual basis.“
Don’t be afraid to incorporate more software to streamline your responsibilities and increase overall preparedness.
“Software as a Service (SaaS) is playing a larger part in many large corporations and we need to make sure we are using best-in-class tools to manage our operations.”
Most importantly, make it personal.
“Make business continuity personal to the company you work for. It’s not about storms, RTO, BIAs, or even plans. First you have to make it fit the culture of the company you are supporting. Don’t forget to put your employees first and understand what works for the organization next door won’t necessarily work for you.”
Optimize Your Continuity Through Severe Weather Events
If your organization is ready to combat the challenges severe weather poses to your business continuity, contact Earth Networks today!
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