Business, IT Execs Differ on Disaster Recovery Needs

U.S. business and technology executives have strikingly different views of
how safe they think their critical business data would be in the event of a
disaster, according to a new poll by EMC/RoperASW.

The survey of 274 executives at major U.S. corporations and
other large organizations found that only 14 percent of business leaders believed their
important business information is very vulnerable to being lost in the event
of a disaster. In contrast, 52 percent of information technology executives felt
their data would be very vulnerable if a disaster were to strike.

The two groups also disagreed on how long it would take to resume normal
business operations in the event of a disaster. Only 9 percent of business executives
said they would need three days or more to resume normal operations, while
23 percent of technology executives said recovery operations would stretch from
three days to more than a week.

EMC and Roper said the gap is particularly troubling considering that
pending regulatory efforts would require companies to disclose their
disaster readiness and the effect that such an outage would have on business
and customer confidence.

“Even with everything that has transpired over the past two years, there’s
still a perception that protecting data is an IT problem, not necessarily a
business priority,” said Carl Greiner, senior vice president at META Group.

Resuming normal business operations after three days would cost a company
millions and millions of dollars and could also cause immeasurable damage in terms of
customer satisfaction and reputation, according to Greiner. Based on the survey results, “Business leaders need to open their eyes, ears, and most likely their
wallets to address some vulnerability in their organizations,” he said.

The survey concluded that business executives “are unaware or uninformed
about their business continuity capabilities,” and that IT executives “are
not adequately sharing or communicating the company’s exposure.”

Businesses are not investing sufficiently in business continuity solutions,
EMC and Roper said, adding that there may be a misperception among business
executives that if data is simply backed up, it is protected and can be
recovered quickly.

“An expectation of recovery times measured in days seems to reflect poor
awareness of the financial and customer satisfaction impact of downtime,”
the survey said.

“The gaps were surprising considering all of the recent attention focused on
preserving and gaining access to business information and the need, in
general, to be able to effectively respond to any sort of disruption in
business,” said RoperASW CEO Edward Keller.

“There’s also a general feeling
that the focus on corporate governance and regulations in the area of
business continuity are going to bring issues like this even more into the
forefront,” Keller said. “Once compliance and reporting is on the table, it’s clear that
business leaders and their IT counterparts are going to have to get in sync
with exactly what their capabilities are.”

No Perception Gap Found In Europe

European business and technology executives, surprisingly, generally agree
on their data vulnerability. The survey polled 254 senior business and IT
execs in seven countries and found that 40 percent of business executives and 44 percent
of IT executives feel very vulnerable.

The executives were also in agreement on expected lengthy recovery times,
with a quarter of all business and IT executives surveyed in Europe feeling
that it would take three days or more to resume normal business operations
following a disaster.

“Our customers tell us that their greatest challenge isn’t backing up their
information, it’s recovering and resuming operations in a timely manner,”
said David Goulden, EMC’s executive vice president for Global Marketing and
New Business Development.

Goulden said that EMC doesn’t believe U.S. business leaders are being
misled by their IT teams. Instead, Goulden attribuites the findings to what is likely a misperception that if the
data is backed up, there is no issue. “In both the U.S. and Europe,
technology executives recognize the significant challenge they would face in
restoring that information to serve the business in a timely manner.”

The EMC-sponsored survey was conducted by RoperASW by phone in April and
May. Executives in a wide range of industries, including financial services,
manufacturing, healthcare, government, retail and telecommunications, were
polled.

Roughly one-third of the respondents worked for organizations with
revenues of more than $5 billion a year, one-third between $2 billion and $5
billion, and one-third between $1 and $2 billion. In Europe, organizations
and companies with more than 1,000 employees were selected, with 43 percent of the
respondents responsible for more than 5,000 employees.

Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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