Business continuity trends and challenges 2019: survey results

Published: Friday, 18 January 2019 10:11

For the past five years Continuity Central has conducted an online survey asking business continuity professionals about their expectations for the year ahead. This article provides the results of the most recent survey and identifies some interesting changes from previous years…


134 survey responses were received, with the majority (78.4 percent) being from large organizations (companies with more than 250 employees). 12.7 percent were from small organizations (50 or less employees) and 8.9 percent were from medium sized organizations (51 to 250 employees).

The highest percentage of respondents was from the USA (38.5 percent), followed by the UK (23.1 percent). Significant numbers of responses were also received from Canada (6.1 percent) and Australasia (5.4 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 2019?’

12 percent of respondents expect to see no change in the way their organization manages business continuity. 54.1 percent expect to see small changes, whilst a third (33.9 percent) are anticipating large changes.

The 88 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. Key themes that emerged were as follows:
‘Making major revisions to BCM strategies and/or BCP(s)’ topped the list of changes that business continuity managers expected to see in 2018 and, in 2019, this was again top of the list, with 22 percent of respondents saying that this was the biggest change they expected to see.

Testing and exercising continues to move up the agenda. In the 2017 version of this survey, 7 percent of respondents said that they expected to see a significant increase in testing and/or exercising activities in the year ahead. In the 2018 survey this increased to 9.5 percent; and, in 2019, it reached 11 percent.

New or updated business continuity software implementations are again high on the list of expected changes. In 2018, 10.8 percent of respondents stated that their organization would be implementing new BC software; in 2019 10.1 percent of organizations expect to be making this change.

Cyber threats are also high on the priority list. 9.2 percent of respondents expect to give more attention to cyber security and cyber risks in 2019, compared to 10.2 percent in 2018.

In 2018, 7.5 percent of respondents expected to see new IT DR, availability or cloud technologies being implemented during the year; this trend continues, with 8.25 percent of respondents saying that 2019 will see developments in these areas.

2019 sees a new entrant into the list of top changes, with 7.3 percent of organizations expecting to increase their focus on crisis management. In the 2018 survey, less than 2 percent of respondents expected this to be the main change in the way their organization managed business continuity.

The full list of the ten top change trends is as follows, with results from the 2018 trends and challenges survey in brackets:

Top challenges

Respondents were asked to report on ‘the biggest challenge that may hold back business continuity developments within your organization during 2019’:

Business continuity spending in 2019

Spending on business continuity will remain static in many organizations in 2019, with 48.1 percent of respondents saying that business continuity spending will be the same as 2018. This figure is similar to the 2018 survey, where this figure was 51.98 percent.

Encouragingly, 38.9 percent of respondents said that business continuity spending would go up in 2019; the number of respondents saying that business continuity spending would go up in 2018 was 33.9 percent.  31.3 percent of respondents said that business continuity spending would be higher in 2019 (27.7 percent in 2018) and 7.6 percent (6.2 percent in 2018) said it would be much higher.

9.9 percent (9.6 percent in the 2018 survey) of respondents said that organizational business continuity spending would be lower in 2019 than in 2018; and 3.1 percent (4.5 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 2019. The majority 62.1 (69.5 percent in 2018) said that their business continuity team would remain the same size.

There was a significant increase in the number of organizations expecting to recruit more business continuity team members in 2019, with 30.3 percent (23.2 percent in 2018) saying that this will be the case.

Only 7.6 percent (7.3 percent) said that business continuity teams would reduce in size.

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