The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: August 2003

Business continuity discontinuity

1 August 2003

A new opinion poll of US business and technology executives shows a wide gap in how safe each considers their critical business data would be in the event of a disaster.
An EMC/RoperASW survey of 274 executives at major US corporations and other large organisations found that only 14% of business leaders felt their important business information is very vulnerable to being lost in the event of a disaster.
In sharp contrast, 52% of information technology executives at the same size companies and organisations felt their data is very vulnerable if a disaster were to strike.
Another gap emerged when respondents were polled on their perceptions as to how long it would take to resume normal business operations if a disaster did strike. Only 9% of business executives say they would need three days or more to resume, while 23% of technology executives said recovery operations would stretch from three days to more than a week. The gap is stark when compared to pending regulatory efforts that would require companies to disclose their disaster readiness and the impact that such an outage would have on business and customer confidence.
"The gaps were surprising considering all of the recent attention focused on preserving and gaining access to business information and the need, in general, to be able to effectively respond to any sort of disruption in business," said Edward Keller, CEO at RoperASW. "There is also a general feeling that the focus on corporate governance and regulations in the area of business continuity are going to bring issues like this even more into the forefront. Once compliance and reporting is on the table, it is clear that business leaders and their IT counterparts are going to have to get in sync with exactly what their capabilities are."
Carl Greiner, senior vice president, META Group, adds, "Even with everything that has transpired over the past two years, there is still a perception that protecting data is an IT problem, not necessarily a business priority. Resuming normal business operations after three days would cost a company millions of dollars and/or immeasurable damage in terms of customer satisfaction and reputation. These results would suggest that business leaders need to open their eyes, ears and most likely their wallets to address some vulnerability in their organisations."
European business and technology executives, unlike their American counterparts, are in line with each other's expectations on their data vulnerability, although they expressed high levels of vulnerability. The survey questioned 254 senior business and IT leaders in seven countries and found that 40% of business executives and 44% of IT executives feel very vulnerable. The two sets of executives were also in synch on expected lengthy recovery times, with a quarter of all business and IT executives surveyed in Europe feeling that it would take three days or more to resume normal business operations following a disaster.
David Goulden, EMC's executive vice president Global Marketing and New Business Development, added, "Our customers tell us that their greatest challenge is not backing up their information, it is recovering and resuming operations in a timely manner. We do not believe US business leaders are being misled by their IT teams; instead it is likely a misperception that if the data is backed up, there is no issue. In both the US and Europe, technology executives recognise the significant challenge they would face in restoring that information to serve the business in a timely manner."

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