Execs not Confident in Availability of Business Data During Disasters

August 28, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Senior executives recently surveyed said their companies' preparedness to provide continuous information availability during a disaster is improving, however a comparison to past surveys indicates otherwise.

A press release on the survey commissioned by SunGard Availability Services and conducted by Harris Interactive said 39% of respondents provided grades C or lower for their capabilities to access business-critical data during disasters, citing deficiencies such as inconsistent practices, lack of preparedness and competing priorities. In 2004, only 24% graded their organizations with a C or lower, indicating businesses are getting worse at preparing for disaster, rather than better.

However, almost half (46%) of responding executives indicated their companies are more prepared than last year to access business-critical data during a disaster, according to the release.

Executives were not as confident in their firms’ preparedness for an Avian Flu pandemic. Forty-two percent of respondents indicated their disaster recovery plans would not work if there should be an avian flu pandemic. Only 26% of companies have a formal avian flu pandemic preparedness plan in place to protect their workforce and business.

Even though the survey found email and telecommunications are the two systems that most frequently experience unplanned disruptions as a result of a cyber attack, power failure or other disaster (53% and 46%, respectively), 79% of respondents said they believe their technology systems are sufficiently set up to ensure continuous access to business-critical data should their staff be dispersed due to a flu pandemic.

The survey revealed contradicting views on acceptable downtime between businesses, their partners and customers.

Thirty-five percent of senior executives polled claimed their organizations can withstand eight to 24 hours of unplanned downtime before their business is affected through either lost revenue, customer satisfaction or lost productivity, yet 51% also stated customers and partners will only tolerate two hours or less of unplanned downtime. In addition, almost 40% of respondents admitted their companies are not at all, or not very, rigorous at conducting due diligence of partners’ abilities to ensure access to business-critical information.

Other key findings of the survey included:

  • 95% of respondents overwhelmingly agree the tolerance for business systems downtime has narrowed, 28% cannot tolerate less than one hour of unplanned downtime.
  • 40% of respondents indicated order entry or customer service systems are where downtime is least tolerated. By comparison, only 2% mentioned quality assurance or regulatory compliance systems.
  • 42% have increased spending to reduce the risk of loss of access to business-critical data during a disaster while the remaining respondents’ budgets have mostly stayed the same, compared to one year ago.
  • 40% of respondents cite financial restrictions as the chief barrier that hinders them from making uninterrupted information availability, business continuity and disaster recovery planning a priority; 46% say other priorities take precedent.

The survey was conducted via telephone or online interviews with 57 senior executives at US-based companies.