Firms not facing worst

A study by AT&T and Cisco Systems reveals that companies are not prepared for any kind of disasters. A third of companies worldwide have no plan of action for how to cope if they are struck by a disaster — natural or man-made.

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By  Diana Milne Published  October 16, 2005

A third of companies worldwide have no plan of action for how to cope if they are struck by a disaster — natural or man-made. This worrying statistic is revealed in a report on business continuity planning by AT&T and Cisco Systems in co-operation with the Economist’s Intelligence Unit. And to make matters worse 28% of the firms surveyed admitted they have already experienced a complete meltdown of key business operations as a result of a disaster. Not surprisingly the survey revealed a lack of confidence on the part of firms in their ability to manage threats. Of the 240 senior executives from across the world who took part in the survey, only 48% said they were confident they could ensure the safety of their employees in the event of a disaster. And less than half displayed confidence in their firm’s ability to protect digital assets such as IT systems and data. “This report should serve as a wake-up call to business,” said Bill Archer, president of AT&T’s operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “As business becomes ever more network intensive, and IT systems becomes increasingly the central nervous system of the corporation, the risks of even a minor disruption having a huge impact across the business and throughout the supply chain gets even greater.” According to the survey US firms are most likely to have business continuity plans in place and defines such plans as strategies and processes which enable firms to survive incidents and threats such as electronic security breaches, natural disaster or terrorism. Archer believes all firms should have such plans in place and that they should be tested regularly. The survey has shown that less than half the companies who took part had tested their plan in the past 12 months. “It’s vital that every enterprise has in place a reliable, robust and scaleable business continuity plan; increased regulatory exposure and financial accountability demands that this is not a topic senior executives can afford to ignore,” said Archer. “With threats as diverse as cyber attacks through to climate changes all adding multiple layers of complexity there is an imperative to have in place the preparation to prepare for the unexpected,” Archer added. Robert Lloyd, president of Cisco’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said firms can expect to come under increasing pressure from shareholders, regulators and insurers to buck up their ideas and put contingency plans in place. “These survey results show that there is much effort required before companies can feel confident they have done all they can to identify and put in place the measures needed to secure their people, their offices and their intellectual property,” he said. “The need for cross-functional collaboration between IT and all other areas of the business is greater than ever and that is why Cisco is working with partners such as AT&T to bring about a multi-layered approach to business continuity,” added Lloyd.

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