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Small firms lacking IT disaster plans: Report

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

More than a third of Australian small businesses do not have a disaster recovery system to ensure IT systems are quickly reestablished, a new report reveals, compared to 16% of larger firms.

 

The Regus report is based on a survey of more than 12,000 businesspeople in 85 countries, including more than 400 senior business professionals in Australia.

 

According to the report, a significant proportion of firms are failing to take proper precautions with regard to disaster recovery.

 

The report reveals 30% of Australian businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan in place for their company IT, while 50% have no business continuity plan for their workspace requirements.

 

Alarmingly, 36% of small Australian firms do not a have a disaster recovery system in place to ensure computer systems are up and running within 24 hours, compared to 16% of larger firms.

 

Globally, 55% of firms have no disaster recovery facility that ensures an alternative workspace is available within 24 hours. Australia follows this trend, with 50% of firms lacking an alternative workspace.

 

The cost could be a major reason for this discrepancy, with the report revealing 23% of Australian businesses perceive the cost of DR facilities as prohibitive.

 

More than half of Australian respondents (54%) said they would invest in a workspace DR facility if the service was suitably priced, indicating the cost is indeed a major factor.

 

William Willems, Regus regional vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, says the average incident can cost up to US$500,000, so disaster recovery plans are crucial.

 

“Almost a quarter of businesses in Australia reveal a high perceived cost of DR,” Willems says.

 

“But many also say that they would be willing to pay a monthly fee to access a workspace disaster recovery facility in case of emergency.”

 

“This is a key indicator that although too many businesses are taking a gamble, their mentality is changing.”

 

“As more affordable products and services become available around the globe, it is likely that businesses will increasingly stop hoping for the best and start preparing for the worst.”

 

In a bid to help SMEs survive major disruptions, the Australasian chapter of the Business Continuity Institute will host a series of free workshops around Australia in February and March.

 

The workshops are aimed at introducing Australian SMEs to the benefits and practises of business continuity.

 

“SMEs are more vulnerable to business disruptions than large organisations,” BCI Australasian chapter president Tim Janes says.

 

“This is because they are often single-site operations where the loss of the site means the business is closed, or they may concentrate on small markets or areas that can be wiped out.”

 

“They have smaller financial reserves to tide them over through periods of disruption and… there are fewer staff to support the business.”

 

According to Janes, the workshops will help organisations anticipate and plan for disruptive events by demonstrating how SMEs can adapt established methods to suit their own businesses.