For many years, the reluctance of some business leaders, particularly at mid-sized organisations, to invest in infrastructure that adds little to improving operational performance has constrained investment in business continuity. Consequently, responses to disasters or unplanned periods of downtime have to date been entirely reactive. However, there are signs that continuity is becoming a higher priority, and that the purse strings are being loosened.
A study by GCR Custom Research found that 80% of IT decision-makers at both large and medium-size businesses regard availability as a higher priority in 2007. Nevertheless, the challenge for those medium-size businesses remains acute: 59% report that continuity plans are hampered by a lack of internal resources – including hardware, people and applications – needed to implement such a strategy.
Other challenges include a lack of data to build the business case for business continuity investment (34%); a lack of time (49%); and the inability of managers to agree on the technology necessary (55%).
Mobile communications form an integral part of business continuity plans
Elsewhere, research by telecoms equipment maker Mitel has uncovered the degree to which UK businesses rely on mobile communications within their business continuity planning. Mobile devices are an integral part of business continuity plans at nearly half of UK businesses (48%) compared to a global average of 33%. Given the experiences of the London transport bombings, when mobile networks became unusable, such reliance may be unwise.
According to the research, more than a third of respondents predict that in the event of a major incident, it would take between 24 hours and 48 hours for normal operations to be resumed. Given that it is generally accepted that an interruption of more than three days can prove fatal to businesses, decision-makers were urged to check the validity of the assumptions being made in their continuity planning.