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Exploring the business continuity software market

ClearView Continuity is a UK based supplier of specialist business continuity software. Re-launched in 2010, it has seen rapid global growth with collaborators and clients in all parts of the world, from Australia to South Africa, South East Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Europe and the US. The global network of collaborators enables ClearView to provide 24/7 global support for its clients, who range from the largest global financials to more modest single-country organizations. Clearview does not place restrictions on user numbers or functionality which means that all clients benefit from the same powerful functionality.

The success of Clearview has been underlined at the CIR Magazine Annual Business Continuity Awards, with ClearView Continuity being presented with the Business Continuity Management Planning Software of the Year Award in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Given the company’s wide experience of the global business continuity software market, Continuity Central asked ClearView’s chief executive, Charles Boffin, to give his view on changes and challenges in the business continuity software market:

Continuity Central: What trends are you seeing in the way business continuity managers are using specialist business continuity software?

Charles Boffin: As a general observation and from my experience, I think the vast majority of business continuity managers recognise and value the benefits that BCM software can bring. But the growth in use of software is not perhaps as fast as this enthusiasm. I think this is for a number of reasons:

  • Gaining corporate budget and approval: some business continuity managers are still challenged by the internal view that business continuity is a cost, not a real business benefit;
  • Fingers have been burnt before on previous business continuity software systems that have not delivered;
  • Some ‘traditional’ business continuity specialists and consultants still see software as a threat, rather than a means of adding value to the process.

Continuity Central: Our recent Business Continuity Software survey shows that just over half of business continuity managers (53 percent of 377 respondents) currently use specialist business continuity software. Is that figure lower or higher than you would expect? Why do you think that more people don’t use specialist business continuity software?

Charles Boffin: That figure is about what I would expect at present. Although, as I mentioned in my response to the previous question, I think that more would want to use it, but have been restrained by other factors; principally budget. I do think this will change dramatically over the next few years as :

  • Using specialist software which is fit for purpose will become the norm;
  • Business continuity software is becoming much more accessible and usable;
  • Governance, standards and regulation provide a catalyst for smarter information management – a key strength of software such as ours. Demand for ISO 22301 certification in particular will lead to increased use of business continuity software since all moves towards standards, governance and information management are supported (and made easier) by effective software.

Continuity Central: The above survey asked respondents to rate the business continuity software they use on a scale of 1 to 10 for various aspects. The area with least satisfaction was ‘Ease of Use’ : is this a surprise to you?

Charles Boffin: No surprise whatsoever. We know that some competitor products have been over-engineered to the point that they have become almost unusable. This leads to frustration for all users and, ultimately, can result in failed projects when trying to implement software. We take an entirely opposite approach by starting from the point of the individual user and building collaboratively with our clients.

Continuity Central: In general do you think that the way people use specialist business continuity software is changing?

Charles Boffin: Yes. Enforced change through:

  • New technology appearing (mobile access);
  • Changing behaviours in organizations e.g. the move away from the traditional crisis command centre;
  • Standards and governance leading to a greater need for reporting and information management;
  • Greater sophistication and knowledge of business continuity managers, recognising the opportunities to use BCM software more effectively;
  • Continuing pressure on cost-effectiveness leading to business continuity teams having to ‘do more with less’ and therefore using software as a key support platform;
  • The arrival of new and better software products, such as ClearView’s, which are now dominating the market and replacing the older, less capable, less user-friendly solutions.

Continuity Central: What would you say are the main advantages of using specialist business continuity software over standard software such as Microsoft Excel and Word?

Charles Boffin: Flexibility; fit for use; mobile access; rapid development; reporting and outputs; workflow management; and a single database rather than multiple sources. These things result in plans that are always up to date and accurate.

Continuity Central: Before we close the interview, just a couple of questions about ClearView Continuity, specifically. What do you believe are the reasons why you have won the CIR Business Continuity Management Planning Software of the Year Award three times in a row?

Charles Boffin: There are three main reasons:

  • Maintaining our core principles of developing ClearView as a practical tool that helps all users in all parts of an organization from ‘business’ plan owners to central business continuity specialists. Each have their own needs, experiences of using software and deliverables. One platform needs to meet all of these requirements. In short, we offer a platform that provides different experiences to different users with a single interface.
  • Our flexibility and configuration which provides the ability to reflect the needs of different regions means that we have had an extremely positive reaction from all parts of the world.
  • This same flexibility allows us to rapidly develop new functionality on a core, robust platform. We have our own development team in house and work closely with clients in developing new functionality so that it is appropriate, relevant, and fit for purpose. We do not introduce new functionality ‘just because it is there’.

Continuity Central: What plans do you have to enhance the software in the future?

Charles Boffin: We are constantly looking for ways to enhance and develop the platform, recognising that in today’s world and the pace of change with technology this is the ‘norm’ for successful companies. But, new functionality needs to be developed in a way that adds real value to the product. That is why we actively engage our clients in this process. We see a market where there is a shake out of different complementary providers: risk management systems, business continuity software providers, emergency notification suppliers, niche incident management providers etc. The edges are becoming blurred. The future may be fully integrated platforms or single platform specialists: but the key issue is that for the user there is a ‘one source’ experience. Although technically we can, and do, work with a whole range of other complementary providers in this field in response to specific client needs, I do believe that there will be a natural migration towards collaborations of the premier players in each individual space. I also expect to see a continuing focus on mobile, recognising the behaviours of our clients and requirements of the market.

Make a comment or ask a question

Charles Boffin is happy to accept readers’ questions. Please email them to editor@continuitycentral.com and the responses will be posted here.

More details about Clearview Continuity can be found at http://www.clearview-continuity.com/

•Date: 12th June 2014 • World •Type: Article • Topic: BC software

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