BCI Emergency Communications Report 2020: Organizations can implement emergency communications plans quicker and more effectively thanks to technological innovation, training and exercising of plans.

Caversham, UK – 23rd January 2020: The Business Continuity Institute (BCI), in partnership with F24, has released the 5th edition of the BCI Emergency Communications Report. This annual publication provides insight into how organizations communicate in an emergency, the key communication challenges organizations face and how technology is helping to assist in communications processes.

State of the art technology enables faster communications

This year’s report found an increase in organizations using emergency notification and/or crisis management tools - 67% compared to 59.3% in 2019. This rise in popularity of using specialist emergency notification and crisis management tools/software suggests many of the organizations have decided to switch to specialist tools rather than rely on the free options available in the market. The companies using a software/tool are significantly faster in communications than those without.

The report also found that an increasing number of organizations prefer using software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions rather than on-premise software solutions. Nearly two-thirds of organizations (65.9%) are electing to use a SaaS solution, whilst under a fifth (19.5%) are using on-premise installed software. A SaaS solution can help to deliver a seamless emergency communications solution across multiple devices and can also help surpass the problem of adopting a new solution on legacy systems, an issue highlighted as a barrier to adoption by over half (51.2%) of respondents in the BCI 2019 Disruptive Technologies Report.

Lack of budget is the most cited reason for not employing an emergency communications tool, with over a third (36.4%) reporting they had no budget was defined for emergency communications tools or software. Just under a fifth of respondents (19.1%) felt that their organization was too small for such a tool to be adopted.  

In terms of activation timing for emergency communications plans, the report found out that companies are faster than last year: Under a third of respondents confirmed that they can activate their plan within five minutes, compared to a fifth in 2019. Furthermore, a small but significant minority (1.6%) claimed activation took zero time due to an automated response based on an IT event/rule. Only 1% of organizations reported that it took over 12 hours to activate their emergency communications plan, down from 2.4% in 2019.

The human factor in crucial for successful communications

The report also analysed some of the key communication challenges and found that people rather than technology which is the primary challenge for ensuring effective execution of an emergency communication plan. Gathering, validating and sharing accurate information is the greatest challenge to organizations during an emergency response, with communicating with staff at second place.

Human error is also the primary cause for plan failure, with lack of accurate staff information and lack of understanding the top causes for failure. Over half of organizations (54.2%) cite communicating with staff as a key challenge during an emergency. At the same time, however, under two-thirds of organizations (61.7%) seek to ensure that employees’ contact information is kept up to date.

Email remains one of the favoured method of communication in a crisis situation


In terms of channels, email remains the preferred method of communication for all scenarios, whether internal or external. However, an alternative means of communication should be considered in the case of a network or system outage, particularly as cyber-attacks are a frequent cause for triggering an emergency communications plan.

Other report findings include:

  • Higher levels of investments in technology and training means 73.1% of organizations are achieving their expected response levels.
  • Nearly half of organizations (41.4%) now have a secure messaging app integrated into their emergency communications plan.
  • The number of organizations who have activated their emergency communications plan over the past year has risen marginally to 71.6% (2019: 71 %) and organizations are increasingly using these real-life activations to improve process and procedure.
  • Adverse weather/natural disaster and IT/telecoms outage are the most frequent reasons for emergency communications plans being activated in the past year.
  • The importance of the external communications/PR department is crucial to the effectiveness of an emergency communications plan, particularly for larger organizations who could see significant customer or share price impact if incorrect or false news is spread.
  • IoT devices are currently being used by less than a quarter of organizations, with over a half not having any plans to implement them. However, the number of organizations who are employing IoT technology or plan to do so has risen by 5% this year to 38.3% (2018: 33.0%).
  • Despite increased international travel, preparations for staff travelling abroad is surprisingly low: only just over a third (39.7%) have a comprehensive travel risk management plan in place and under half (48.2%) ensure reliable contact information is collected for staff travelling abroad.


Rachael Elliott, Head of Thought Leadership at the BCI, on this year’s report:

“Rarely in our research do we witness such a tangible improvement year-on-year. It is therefore extremely encouraging to see that investment in new technologies coupled with an increased dedication to training and exercising has resulted in improvements in both the effectiveness of response and the time it takes for plans to be activated. Once again, however, it is human failure that is the cause for plans to fail, and we would encourage organizations to continue to ensure that contact details are kept up-to-date and keep up the renewed vigour we are seeing in terms of rehearsing and exercising.”

Christian Götz, co-founder of F24 AG, member of the Executive Board and responsible for Sales, Marketing and HR, on this years report:

“I remain convinced that professionals working together with sound, properly implemented technology can handle critical situations far better than without it. I am pleased to see that once again more companies than previously (67%) use a software or tool and thereby are not only significantly faster than those without, but also profit from many additional benefits. The adaption of technology plays a crucial role in order to minimize the consequences of emergency and crisis situations – and this is the overall target we are working on.”

You can find the BCI Report 2020 here

For more information, please contact the Digital Marketing Manager at the Business Continuity Institute – Marianna Pallini  – By emailing: marianna.pallini@thebci.org


About the Business Continuity Institute
Founded in 1994 with the aim of promoting a more resilient world, the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has established itself as the world’s leading Institute for business continuity and resilience. The BCI has become the membership and certifying organization of choice for business continuity and resilience professionals globally with over 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, working in an estimated 3,000 organizations in the private, public and third sectors.

The vast experience of the Institute’s broad membership and partner network is built into its world class education, continuing professional development and networking activities. Every year, more than 1,500 people choose BCI training, with options ranging from short awareness raising tools to a full academic qualification, available online and in a classroom. The Institute stands for excellence in the business continuity and resilience profession and its globally recognised certified grades provide assurance of technical and professional competency. The BCI offers a wide range of resources for professionals seeking to raise their organization’s level of resilience, and its extensive thought leadership and research programme helps drive the industry forward. With approximately 120 Partners worldwide, the BCI Partnership offers organizations the opportunity to work with the BCI in promoting best practice in business continuity and resilience.

The BCI welcomes everyone with an interest in building resilient organizations from newcomers, experienced professionals and organizations. Further information about the BCI is available at www.thebci.org.


About F24

F24 is the leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider for incident and crisis management, emergency notification (FACT24) and for sensitive and critical communications (eCall) in Europe. With FACT24, the company is able to offer a highly innovative solution and help customers around the world to successfully and efficiently manage incidents, emergencies and critical situations. In addition, the eCall platform offers solutions for high-volume communications of critical to confidential content in the business environment.

Founded in 2000, F24 AG has its headquarters in Munich, Germany. Along with its subsidiaries, it supports more than 2,500 companies and organisations in more than 100 countries around the globe as part of the daily communication of critical and confidential information or in the event of a crisis. This makes the F24 Group one of the world’s leading SaaS providers for crisis management and alerting as well as critical communications for business customers.

F24 Group was the first company in the world to be certified by ‘The British Standards Institution’ (BSI) in 2010, for its integrated information security (ISMS) and business continuity (BCMS) management systems. The F24 AG and the majority of its subsidiaries are ISO/IEC 27001 and ISO 22301 certified.
F24 AG is the only non-US company listed in the current Gartner report for emergency/mass notification services (EMNS).

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