Training and exercising of crisis communications plans at a record high as organizations tackle the challenges of new working environments
BCI Emergency and Crisis Communications Report 2024
The BCI is pleased to announce the 10th edition of its Emergency and Crisis Communications Report. This year’s report examines how crisis communication methods have evolved over the past decade in response to changes in working habits, the impact of new technologies, and shifting privacy policies. The report also identifies best practices for deploying an emergency or crisis communications plan and considers how communication protocols can be improved.
The changing landscape – SaaS usage at an all-time high
The last four years have seen a concerted shift in emergency and crisis communications strategies in the wake of the pandemic and the impact of remote/hybrid working. The 2024 report shows that organizations are still tackling the challenges of alerting a dispersed workforce, as well as ensuring that training and exercising is engaging and effective.
In the past ten years, there has been a notable shift in the type of technology used in emergency and crisis communications. Indeed, with increased security protocols now attached to cloud solutions, coupled with faster and more reliant network capabilities, organizations are shifting their software and infrastructure into the cloud. This trend continues with this edition of the report, which highlights how the use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) in emergency communications is at an all-time high.
The popularity of SaaS solutions lies in the ability to be deployed across multiple platforms at once, as well as being hosted remotely in the cloud — a particular advantage for those organizations with staff working remotely.
The hybrid option of having a SaaS solution integrated with existing technologies is becoming increasingly popular. This is because organizations seek to adjust their toolkits to keep existing software but layer a new SaaS solution into it to provide enhanced crisis capabilities.
What matters to organizations
There is an increasing level of dissatisfaction (up to 20.3% from 16.2% in 2023) among organizations towards emergency and communications tools. Reasons highlighted include the need for better integration with other alerting scenarios (48.3%), lack of functionality (31.6%), and affordability (19.3%).
In terms of functionality, the report evaluates which features are most significant to organizations. Collaborative functionality is now considered the most important feature in an emergency communications tool with 54.6% of respondents deeming it to be a critical requirement. This demonstrates how collaboration at the onset of a crisis is crucial, in order to ensure that the right people are informed, the correct information is obtained, and, where appropriate, management are consulted first.
Activating the plan
There has been an increase in the number of organizations that have activated their emergency communications plans, with almost 65% of organizations (2023: 60.0%) activating plans between one and five times in the last year. Extreme weather events were the most popular cause of activation at 48.3%, which is likely to remain the case over the mid- to long-term given the severity of climate change events.
The speed of activation is paramount for a successful emergency response and most organizations can activate their plan within the first hour of an incident. Furthermore, 70% of activations met the organization’s expected response level.
The human factor is a critical element in the success of emergency response. Similar to last year’s report, the primary reason given for a plan failure was a lack of response to emergency messages by recipients.
However, this is an area that can be improved through training and exercising programmes. Indeed, this tenth anniversary report highlights a positive 10-year trend in the number of organizations engaging in regular training, which has now reached a record high at 79.3% (up from 68.4% last year).
This year’s data has shown a notable shift from previous years and demonstrates a greater awareness among practitioners of the problems associated with network outages, as well as a palpable need to address these issues with back-up solutions. It is also welcoming to see practitioners being more pragmatic when faced with budget issues by either exploiting existing enterprise tools or, as is particularly emphasised in this year’s report, investing in specialist solutions which interact with existing solutions. Such technologies not only help with cost but, by using a known interface, they help ensure that a tool can be used quickly and efficiently when a crisis hits.
Head of Thought Leadership, BCI
We are delighted to be the sponsor of this important report for the sixth consecutive year and congratulate the BCI on this ten-year anniversary. We are convinced that the findings of this report are of crucial importance in the development of effective strategies for overcoming crises and strengthening the resilience of companies especially these days. It is encouraging to see that many companies are putting the findings of the previous years into practice, more rely on software-based solutions and are planning some budget for it accordingly.
Senior Vice President Sales ENS/CM, F24 AG
The BCI Emergency and Crisis Communications Report 2024 is sponsored by F24.