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Business continuity trends and challenges 2016

During the final quarter of 2015 Continuity Central conducted an online survey asking business continuity professionals about their expectations for 2016. Whilst many of the survey findings are similar to the same survey a year earlier, there are some interesting changes.

203 responses were received, with the majority (80.7 percent) being from large organizations (companies with more than 250 employees). The highest percentage of respondents were from the United States (35 percent), followed by the UK (33 percent). Significant numbers of responses were also received from Australia and New Zealand (10 percent) and Canada (5 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 2016?’

Only 13.93 percent of respondents expect to see no change in the way their organization manages business continuity. The majority (55.72 percent) expect to see small changes, whilst almost a third (30.35 percent) are anticipating large changes.
The 86.07 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. The key trends were generally similar to those found in our ‘Business continuity trends and challenges 2015’ survey (the results of this previous survey are shown in brackets below): however, a notable new addition to the top changes is that four percent of respondents say that their top change will be focussing on making plans for possible disruption by terrorism. No respondents highlighted this as a key change in our 2015 survey.

Another notable difference is that ten percent of respondents expect their organization to concentrate on integration projects in 2016, with the integration of various protective disciplines (for example business continuity, disaster recovery, risk management and crisis management) and the integration of disparate business continuity planning activities under centralized control being the two main areas of focus. Less than two percent of respondents said that this was an expected top change in 2015.

Finally, there was a significant increase in the number of organizations increasing their focus on information security, with 7 percent seeing this as a top area for change in 2016, compared to 4.1 percent in 2015.

The full list of top change trends is as follows:

  • 13.3 percent (14.4 percent) will be making major revisions to BCM strategies and/or BCP(s);
  • 10 percent will be focussed on integration projects; with 30 percent of these being challenged by projects to bring BCM under central control, and with 41 percent looking at integrating various protective disciplines;
  • 9.9 percent (6.1 percent) of respondents expect to see a significant increase in testing and/or exercising activities in 2016;
  • 8.1 percent (6.2 percent) will be implementing new IT DR, availability or cloud technologies;
  • An increased focus on information security will be having an impact on 7 percent (4.1 percent) of respondents;
  • 7 percent (8.7 percent) will be introducing new business continuity software tools;
  • 6.4 percent (4.1 percent) will see their organization moving away from business continuity management. Of these, 72 percent are moving towards resilience;
  • Changes in the business / organizational structure will impact 5.8 percent (6.1 percent) of respondents;
  • 4.0 percent (zero percent) are increasing their focus on terrorism disruption preparation;
  • 4.0 percent (3.4 percent) will be rolling out business continuity awareness and training programmes;
  • BIA work will be the main challenge for 4.0 percent (less than 2.0 percent);
  • 3.5 percent (2.0 percent) of respondents will be implementing a new automated notification system;
  • There will be an increased focus on supply chain resilience / supply chain dependencies in 3 percent (3.9 percent) of respondents’ organizations;
  • 2.3 percent (4.6 percent) will embark on new ISO 22301 alignment, implementation and certification projects;
  • 2.3 percent (zero percent) are moving towards a scenario-specific business continuity planning approach.


Respondents were asked to report on ‘the biggest challenge that may hold back business continuity developments within your organization during 2016’. The two major themes that emerged were the same as those in our 2015 Trends and Challenges survey. These were:

  1. Lack of budget and resources:  44.7 percent (35.6 percent). Of these, 75 percent said that lack of budget will be their main challenge in 2016, while 25 percent said that their top problem will be lack of resources.
  2. Lack of top management commitment, buy-in and support: 16.8 percent (16.4 percent).

Other recurring challenges were:

  • The low priority given to BCM compared to other deliverables: 10 percent;
  • Lack of business unit support: 6.8 percent;
  • Lack of time available for business continuity staff to manage all their tasks: 5.8 percent.
  • Lack of a business continuity culture: 4.7 percent
  • Staffing difficulties (loss of business continuity staff and difficulties in recruiting staff with appropriate qualifications): 4.2 percent.

Business continuity spending in 2016

Spending on business continuity will remain static in many organizations, with 57.5 percent of respondents saying that 2016 business continuity spending will be the same as 2015. This figure is up from our 2015 survey, where 47.7 percent of respondents reported that this would be the case. There was a significant drop in respondents saying that business continuity spending would increase: only 24.5 percent of respondents said that business continuity spending would be higher (19 percent) or much higher (5.5 percent). In our 2015 survey, 31.8 percent respondents of said that business continuity spending would be increased: with 24.7 percent saying that spending would be higher and 7.1 percent that it would be much higher.

14 percent (16.3 percent in our previous survey) of respondents said that organizational business continuity spending would be lower in 2016 than in 2015; and 4 percent (4.2 percent) said that it would be ‘much lower’.


Finally, the survey asked respondents about how their organization’s business continuity team is likely to change in 2016. The majority (69.46 percent) said that their business continuity team would remain the same size; 21.18 percent said that it would grow and 9.36 percent said that it would shrink. This compared to 74.1 percent of the respondents to our 2015 survey saying that their business continuity team would remain the same size; 17.6 percent saying that it would grow and 8.3 percent saying it would shrink.

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