As part of their business continuity management (BCM) efforts, companies today are re-thinking their approach to crisis management, but are still behind in leveraging social media as a crucial resource, according to the new Business Continuity Insights Survey by PwC US. The survey, which had approximately 300 respondents, was designed to help gain a better understanding of how business continuity practitioners and stakeholders believe their programs have adapted to a changing environment, and how the practice of business continuity management continues to evolve.
“We are seeing more and more companies using BCM to address items in their risk portfolio, and are spending more time integrating BCM into their enterprise risk management program, versus seeing it as an insurance exercise or IT responsibility,” said Phil Samson, Principal in PwC’s Risk Assurance practice and the firm’s Business Continuity Management service leader. “As they’re starting to think about how to improve crisis communications elements in their BCM programs, we’re finding that some have started to delve into the social media sphere. Yet, the majority is still hesitant about utilizing social media as a crisis management tool.”
According to PwC’s survey, more than half of the respondents – 57 percent – do not officially use social media as a crisis management resource. For companies that have begun integrating social media into their crisis management efforts – Facebook and Twitter cited the most often – not all are seeing improvement in their capabilities. Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents are modestly leveraging it as a tool, but not necessarily seeing improvements in their capabilities, whereas eight percent of respondents believe that social media has become an enabler for their organization to proactively identify and respond to crisis events.
“There is some uncertainty around adopting social media as companies are weighing the possible risks and legal complications, and are not seeing how it can be used to help expedite communications during a crisis,” continued Samson. “As social media’s use in an organization becomes more pervasive and management grows more comfortable with its use, BCM programs will naturally begin to adopt social media for internal and external crisis communications. We’re telling our clients that they must first look through their crisis communication plan for ways to use social media as an effective communication channel to employees, key third parties, customers and stakeholders. Then, they should look at the more likely crisis and risk scenarios and determine if social media could be used to facilitate crisis identification, internal and external communications, and recovery coordination efforts.”
Although companies are still finding it challenging to better integrate global/regional locations beyond corporate and headquarter sites into their overall crisis management process, the majority of PwC’s survey respondents highlighted that documenting their BCM plans have become more pragmatic and user friendly, allowing more flexibility into responsiveness. “Companies are now starting to see that they no longer have to grasp for new ways to structure their BCM programs to get leadership buy-in. By showing the leadership the various enterprise-wide negative impacts of the more likely interruption scenarios, management will engage in moving the BCM program forward,” said Samson.
Quite a few of PwC’s respondents noted that vendor resiliency is being integrated into BCM programs – 64 percent of respondents are involving one or more critical third parties as part of their organizations’ BCM programs, and 83 percent of these respondents are involved in identifying and planning for a loss of third parties. While about half of the respondents either do not manage or assess vendor resiliency, or do so in a silo fashion, 44 percent of companies are attempting to manage vendor resiliency within a centralized function, as a slight majority of these companies have seen an increase in BCM inquiries from their key customers.
“In the past, companies built a structured script and walked through a specific scenario, but now they are realizing that real life crisis events don’t happen that way. They are now looking at how to make crisis management plans much more flexible and capable of handling longer lasting crisis events” said Samson. “Further, the increased emphasis on risk management as an organization-wide initiative has continued to drive collateral improvements within BCM. Management is beginning to align BCM to broader organizational risk initiatives, as well as observing the benefits of imbedding a ‘culture’ of continuity and resiliency within everyday business processes.”
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