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Pre-Katrina Survey Finds Almost Half of State Companies Say Continuity Planning Not a Priority

    Online News published in DMReview.com
December 28, 2005

Ten years after an epidemic severely disrupted Milwaukee businesses, more than one-third of Wisconsin companies do not have a business-continuity plan, according to a report released today by AT&T Inc. and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).

Despite the fact that one in 10 Wisconsin businesses suffered a disaster of sufficient magnitude to cease operations for a time, 47 percent stated that continuity planning was not a priority. Nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin companies do not have business-continuity plans.

The report, "Disaster Planning in the Private Sector: A Look at the State of Business Continuity in the U.S.," surveyed 100 senior technology executives throughout Wisconsin with direct business-planning responsibilities.

"What concerns me is that the data suggests that Wisconsin's level of preparation is one of the lowest in the United States," said Philip Ross, regional vice president of AT&T Business. AT&T also surveyed more than 1,200 businesses around the country.

Of the Wisconsin companies that have business-continuity plans in place, 55 percent report testing them in the last year and only one-quarter of those in the last six months. Both figures are below the national averages. The consensus of business-continuity experts is that plans should be tested at least every six months.

"Preparation and practice are critical for weathering disasters," Ross added. "Fortune always favors the prepared company, even in the most chaotic situations."

Recognizing the increasing importance of their networks to their day-to-day operations, more than three-fourths (77 percent) have implemented Internet security precautions, such as firewalls, intrusion detection, hacker protection and password authentication, or plan to do so in the near future.

More than one-third (38 percent) of companies who include cyber security as part of their business-continuity plan have contracted with an outside service provider to manage communications security.

All companies, regardless of size, need to identify their critical business components and effectively manage the risks around them. Plans should specify redundant systems, backup sites, employee communications and alternative work sites. They also should include a process for maintaining customer communications immediately following the disaster and until things return to normal.

An increasing number of companies today are turning to experts to handle business continuity planning. Building on years of experience in managing and maintaining some of the world's largest networks, including its own, AT&T offers a wide array of business-continuity services designed to help ensure the continuous operation and availability of customers' critical business processes, applications, data, work centers and networks.
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