Firms unprepared for telecoms disasters

Survey: Methodical approaches to disaster and disruption planning are becoming increasingly important, according to a group specialising in business continuity

Despite most companies admitting that a telecoms failure would massively impact their ability to do business, only one in ten firms have a back-up telecoms system in place, according to research published by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) on Wednesday.

The annual Business Continuity Awareness Survey found that while telecommunications is recognised as a high-impact risk by many companies, it is not addressed seriously enough by the majority of firms.

The BCI claims that very few people immediately think of telecoms failure when asked in general terms about risks to their business but nearly all acknowledge it as a "grave threat" when asked directly. "One fascinating result of this survey is how telecoms protection is almost a blind spot in the planning of many businesses," stated the survey.

Speaking at the Business Continuity Expo in London's Docklands, where the survey was released, BCI chairman Steve Mellish said that lack of a coordinated approach to telecommunications protection showed that most companies fail to plan for serious disruption or disaster.

"Fundamentally it should be recognised that business continuity management must be an integral part of the business planning process. All eventualities from big events like fire and flood to the everyday events such as temporary loss of IT or telecoms should be taken into consideration and reviewed constantly," said Mellish.

Evidence of the lack of a uniform approach to planning for disasters and disruption was provided by the huge variety of terms used to describe such incidents according to the survey. Around 40 percent of the 250 companies surveyed believed that business continuity and disaster planning meant the same thing, but the BCI claims the two terms have separate and distinct meanings.

"Business continuity planning is primarily concerned with people functions or the reputation of the business such as the fuel crisis or a product recall. Disaster recovery planning is related to serious loss of IT systems. But this distinction is not recognised by most companies," said Mellish.

The BCI works to promote issues of continuity and disaster recovery. Its members include banks, insurers, retailers and IT firms.