Study: Many U.S. Businesses Still Not Ready For Disasters - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Business & Finance

Study: Many U.S. Businesses Still Not Ready For Disasters

The study by the Partnership for Public Warning and AT&T showed that nearly a quarter of companies don't have disaster plans in place.

Three years after Sept. 11, one year after a major blackout nailed the Northeast, and just days after a major hurricane devastated sections of Florida, nearly one in four American businesses still doesn't have a disaster plan in place, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study, done by the non-profit Partnership for Public Warning in conjunction with AT&T, surveyed 1,000 executives from 10 of the country's major metropolitan areas, including New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami.

A quarter of the businesses in New York and Washington, the two targets of the 9-11 attacks, lack a plan. But at least they're more prepared than businesses in earthquake-prone Los Angeles, where 30% of companies work without a plan.

"None of this was really a surprise," said Ken Allen, executive director of Partnership for Public Warning. "It was perhaps a disappointment, but it only confirmed what we expected: Too many businesses are unprepared."

Businesses in Florida are the most prepared, said Allen, with only 15% of the companies surveyed there operating without a business-continuity plan. More Florida companies tend to be ready for the worst, Allen said, because of their constant exposure to hurricanes.

"But even in Florida, news reports of thousands laid off after Hurricane Charley because their employers didn't have a plan in place are distressing," Allen noted. "A business-continuity plan is like an insurance policy. You don't think about it until you need it. And then it's too late."

Even a calamity isn't always enough to get the idea into people's heads that a plan is necessary. Although about one in five businesses said they'd suffered a disaster in the last 12 months that caused disruption; 75% of those that had been hit didn't bother to improve their plan or create one if they didn't have one before.

The study also uncovered other bad habits among those businesses. Nationally, nearly 25% of disaster plans haven't been updated in the last year, and more than 40% haven't been tested during that time.

"It's critical for companies to make sure their plans are up to date and reflect the latest threats," Allen said. "A company can have a great plan--but unless it's relevant, it's of little value." Still, he said, it's no contest between not having a plan and having an outdated one. "With the latter, at least someone has been thinking about it," he said.

Companies in New York tended to test and update their continuity plans much more frequently than those in other areas. Nearly 90% of New York companies have updated their plans, and almost 80% have tested them in the last 12 months. "That's probably because of the continuing threat levels there," said Allen, but it also could be because of the fresh memory of last summer's blackout.

On the IT side, 40% of companies surveyed admitted that they're skating on thin ice by not having redundant servers and-or backup sites.

The apathy is understandable, said Allen, if distressing. "Time goes by and you forget about [things like 9-11] and the press of business intervenes."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
COVID-19: Using Data to Map Infections, Hospital Beds, and More
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/25/2020
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
How Startup Innovation Can Help Enterprises Face COVID-19
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  3/24/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll