Business Continuity Myths

For many businesses of all sizes, IT has been an essential part of everyday trading since the 1990s. More recently, a company’s data has become one of the most valuable assets a company can hold and loss of it can prove extremely costly. There are many figures thrown around that are aimed at making IT managers and business owners implement a business continuity plan. However, many of these figures are so extraordinary that they have the opposite effect and actually put businesses off the idea altogether.

The statistics are often taken from reputable sources, e.g. a market research paper published by Gartner, but studies will be misquoted or will not be relevant due to their age. Continuity Central, a website designed to help businesses implement a suitable Business Continuity plan, featured an article aimed at quashing the myths of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity. In total, 29 different quotes are investigated. Just a few examples are shown below.

“90% of companies that experience data loss go out of business within two years”

This figure, quoted by Nation’s Building News in an article by an IT provider for SMEs, was supposedly published by Gartner in 2005. However, once investigated, the article from which the quote was taken was no where to be found.

“80% of organisations without relevant contingency plans who suffered a computer disaster went bankrupt”

Apparently taken from a 1993 study by Barry J. Varcoe for IBM, this figure has proved as elusive as the research paper it is featured in. Neither the 1993 paper or the quote can be found and the only study that comes close is another by Barry J. Varcoe in 1994, which doesn’t feature this claim either.

“A company that experiences a computer outage lasting more than 10 days will never fully recover financially”

Jon Toigo, a prolific writer of disaster recovery preparation gave this example in one of his books in 1989, however, a much more recent article (2009), has quoted this figure. What’s more is the 2009 article takes the quote from PricewaterhouseCoopers, suggesting that this particular quote has been recycled.

None of the examples above, or the other 26 listed in the Continuity Central article, would be of any help to someone trying to plan a business continuity strategy. The examples used are so unreasonable that they actually serve to paint a bad picture of business continuity providers.

A glancing look at the list shows that the many examples are basically saying the same thing: that a disaster leading to data loss will cause a large proportion of businesses, e.g. 75%, to go bankrupt. This suggestion is sure to raise a few eye-brows, especially when it is repeated in many forms from many different sources. If this figure (or anything like it) really was true, it would be a famous study that many could draw reference to. Instead, it has become a contrived marketing ploy used by many and believed by few.

There is no doubt that businesses who experience disaster will be worse off in some way because of it, but those sceptical of investing in measures to protect themselves will only be put off by statistics that are questionable at best and simply untrue at worst.

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