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Business continuity trends and challenges 2017

During the final quarter of 2016 Continuity Central conducted an online survey asking business continuity professionals about their expectations for 2017.  This article provides the results of the survey. One surprise from the survey is a significant increase in the number of organizations that will be increasing their spending on business continuity in 2017.

Demographics

171 survey responses were received, with the majority (79.5 percent) being from large organizations (companies with more than 250 employees). The highest percentage of respondents was from the UK (36 percent), followed by the United States (32 percent). Significant numbers of responses were also received from continental Europe (9 percent), Canada (6.5 percent) and Australia (4 percent).

Change levels

The survey asked respondents: ‘What level of changes do you expect to see in the way your organization manages business continuity during 2017?’

19 percent of respondents expect to see no change in the way their organization manages business continuity. 45 percent expect to see small changes, whilst more than a third (36 percent) are anticipating large changes.

The 81 percent of respondents expecting to see changes were asked to provide details of the one area that is likely to have the biggest impact on business continuity practices or strategies within their organization. Various trends were apparent from the answers to this question.

Interestingly, while making major revisions to BCM strategies and/or BCP(s) tops the list of changes that business continuity managers expect to see in 2017, this area saw a significant reduction to 9.5 percent, from the 13.3 percent who expected to make major revisions during 2016.

Business continuity software implementations are high on the list of expected changes, with 9 percent of respondents stating that their organization would be working on this area in 2017. 9 percent of respondents are also expecting to see new IT DR, availability or cloud technologies being implemented in 2017.

The biggest riser in the list of expected changes when compared to our ‘Business continuity trends and challenges 2016’ survey was in the area of business continuity standards. In 2016 just 2.3 percent of respondents said that they expected to see an increased focus on certification or the adoption of a business continuity standard. In 2017 this rises to 8 percent.

The full list of top change trends is as follows, with results from the 2016 trends and challenges survey in brackets:

  • 9.5 percent will be making major revisions to BCM strategies and/or BCP(s) (13.3 percent);
  • 9 percent are planning to implement new or updated business continuity software (7 percent);
  • 9 percent will be implementing new IT DR, availability or cloud technologies (8.1 percent);
  • 8 percent expect to see an increased focus on certification or adoption of a business continuity standard (2.3 percent);
  • 7 percent will be giving more attention to cyber security and cyber risks ( 7 percent);
  • 7 percent of respondents expect to see a significant increase in testing and/or exercising activities in 2017 (9.9 percent);
  • 3.5 percent say that their organization will be moving away from business continuity management to focus more on resilience (4.6 percent)
  • 3 percent will be giving more attention to embedding business continuity (zero percent);
  • 3 percent will be giving more attention to regulatory compliance (zero percent);
  • There will be an increased focus on supply chain continuity in 3 percent of respondents’ organizations (3 percent);
  • BIA work will be the main challenge for 2.5 percent (4.0 percent);
  • 2.5 percent will be rolling out business continuity awareness programmes (4.0 percent).

Top challenges

Respondents were asked to report on ‘the biggest challenge that may hold back business continuity developments within your organization during 2017’. The two major themes that emerged were the same as those in our 2016 trends and challenges survey. These were:

  • Lack of budget and resources:  49 percent (44.7 percent). Of these, 73 percent said that lack of budget will be their main challenge in 2017, while 27 percent said that their top problem will be lack of resources.
  • Lack of top management commitment, buy-in and support: 22 percent (16.8 percent).

Other recurring challenges were:

  • Other business issues distracting the organization or taking resources away from business continuity (11.5 percent);
  • Lack of support from the wider business: 3 percent;
  • Lack of time available for business continuity staff to manage all their tasks: 2.5 percent.
  • General apathy about business continuity in the organization: 2.5 percent.

Business continuity spending in 2017

Spending on business continuity will remain static in many organizations, with 52.1 percent of respondents saying that 2017 business continuity spending will be the same as 2016. This figure is slightly down from the 2016 survey, where 57.5 percent of respondents reported that this would be the case. However, there was a significant increase in respondents saying that business continuity spending would go up in 2017: 34.9 percent of respondents said that business continuity spending would be higher (28.4 percent) or much higher (6.5 percent). In our 2016 survey, only 24.5 percent of respondents said that business continuity spending would be increased: with 19.0 percent saying that spending would be higher and 5.5 percent that it would be much higher.

8.9 percent (14 percent in our previous survey) of respondents said that organizational business continuity spending would be lower in 2017 than in 2016; and 4.1 percent (4 percent) said that it would be ‘much lower’.

Recruitment

Finally, the survey asked respondents about how their organization’s business continuity team is likely to change in 2017. The vast majority (74.0 percent) said that their business continuity team would remain the same size; 19.5 percent said that it would grow and 6.5 percent said that it would shrink. This compared to 69.5 percent of the respondents to our 2016 survey saying that their business continuity team would remain the same size; 21.2 percent saying that it would grow and 9.3 percent saying it would shrink.

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