Challenges to Business Continuity in 2013

A recent survey published by Continuity Central asked businesses how they thought business continuity would fare in 2013. Respondents came from companies in the UK, the USA, Australia, the Middle East and India, giving a fairly good representation of the global picture for business continuity. The survey asked questions relating to the changes, challenges and spending on business continuity measures in 2013, and how these matters would affect roll-out of business continuity packages during the year.

Those who replied considered the amount of funds available to be spent on business continuity measures to be the biggest challenge to the development of this sector of business IT. This is understandable as most developed countries are still striving to keep their economies in growth and many businesses are unable to increase their employees wages in keeping with inflation. A reflection of this is the tightening of many company’s IT budgets which causes IT managers and directors to make a decision between spreading their budget thinly across many services, or focusing on certain services deemed more important than others.

Stretching a budget so that it covers all bases can force businesses to opt for providers that are perhaps not as well suited to the company’s needs, but come within their budget. On the other hand, the company’s directors may decide that getting the best solution for their requirements at the forfeit of other services deemed not as important can leave them unprepared in other ways. It’s a difficult situation that many businesses are facing in uncertain financial times.

The decision of where to spend an IT budget is at the discretion of the company. Do they consider the risk great enough that provisions for business continuity are necessary? Many bigger enterprises, who have the luxury of a large budget alongside a complex IT network, do invest in business continuity packages because they see any potential downtime caused by a natural disaster or IT failure as too great a risk to take. However, smaller businesses who don’t have the money to spend on a service they may never have to call upon often don’t see the need or simply don’t have the funding.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and many companies along the USA’s eastern seaboard are now seeing how costly a natural disaster can be after last autumn’s Hurricane Sandy. Hundreds of businesses were affected by outages to power which had many knock-on effects for other businesses and the general population. For example, the American edition of internet newspaper The Huffington Post was temporarily unavailable as the company that hosts its website, Datagram, lost power to their data centre. There were bigger victims still of Hurricane Sandy, with the New York Stock Exchange offices among those who also were left exposed by inadequate business continuity preparations.

Now that the evidence is there for everyone to see, businesses that before Hurricane Sandy did not consider business continuity plans necessary may now be rethinking their IT strategy in the year ahead, the important question is how much will companies be willing to spend in order to protect their business from disaster. How great is the risk?

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