The BCI has released its annual Emergency & Crisis Communications Report, this looks at how organizations are choosing to communicate in emergency situations, as well as the evolving role of technology in this field and what businesses are looking for in the communication tools of the future. The report is sponsored by F24.
The report says that the surge in remote working throughout the pandemic has resulted in the usage of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions seeing a sharp rise over the past few years, as organizations ensured that emergency communications systems could be accessed across multiple devices in remote environments. While the increase in SaaS usage has only marginally increased this year (up to 74.2 percent from 74.1 percent in 2021), there is still an expectation that businesses will invest in new technology to enhance their own range of in-house solutions this year.
Indeed, the report has found that organizations are now investing more in specialist emergency and crisis management tools to support remote business operations. This follows the trend of last year’s report, which saw a decline in free-to-use messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, as a tool for emergency communication. Organizations are finding that some tools, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, have been pushed to their use limit and are now looking for added functionality to match the unique requirements of their business. The sharpest increase for this has been in small- to mid-sized businesses, those which had previously viewed the investment as not worthwhile.
Organizations reporting that the mobile phone is now the most used device in a crisis. The functionality of SaaS applications on mobile phones has been a factor in the mobile phone becoming the dominant tool for an emergency response.
Not only is remote working influencing the overall trends, but a return to the office and an increase in hybrid working has also resulted in on-site technology (such as walkie-talkies/radios) beginning to record a comeback for emergency communications this year.
Response times are evolving
The ‘golden hour’ target for organizations to respond to a crisis and execute their emergency communications plan is still in play for more than 80 percent of respondents. In fact, the ‘golden five minutes’ is now a valid option for just under a quarter. However, the number of organizations who can activate their plan within five minutes has decreased from that seen last year. Alongside different survey demographics, this is probably a result of senior management requiring events to be analyzed more closely before action is taken, as well as a decline in incidents which need a response within 30 minutes.
Exercising remains key
The report states that it is usually people, not technology, that represent the first point of failure in an emergency communications plan. Despite this, the number of organizations exercising their emergency communications plans at least once a year has fallen to 78.6 percent from 82.3 percent in 2021. This could be due to a difficulty testing response plans in remote environments or a unwillingness to exercise the plans due to a rise in real-life activations serving the same purpose. Although, it is exactly after a large-scale change in environment or working practices that an emergency communications response plan should be exercised.
Other key findings:
- More than a third of organizations have yet to introduce emergency communications tools and software.
- Respondents say the most important feature of an emergency communications tool was the ‘constant exchange of information to enable decision-making’.
- When asked how their organization ensured the acquisition of timely and reliable information in a crisis, 67.6 percent of respondents said it was by keeping employee contact details updated.