Nearly 70% of Region's Businesses Lack Robust Business Continuity Planning

Published November 17th, 2009 - 02:14 GMT

An industry survey conducted by eHosting DataFort, the region's leading managed IT and advisory services provider, and BCM (Business Continuity Management) Institute, has revealed that almost 70 per cent of the region's organizations have not put in place a robust Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Management (BCM) programme, despite growing major disruptions and disasters caused to businesses in the region.

Participants in the BCM survey perceived failure of computer hardware/software and data loss as the highest risk to business disruption, with 21 per cent of the executives stating that natural disasters such as storms, floods and earthquakes were of particular concern.

eHosting DataFort, who is a member of TECOM Investments, conducted the Business Continuity Management survey among organizations across the Middle East - including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan. Over 75 organizations across the Middle East, including banking and finance, IT, retail, media and entertainment, utilities, oil and gas and manufacturing participated in the survey.

Yasser Zeineldin, CEO, eHosting DataFort, said: "The repercussions of the recent power outage in Sharjah, the undersea cable cut that caused widespread Internet outage for almost a week, and the devastation caused by Cyclone Gonu in Oman are prime examples that strongly underline the need for proactive planning. While we are not able to predict when a major disaster will unfold, either manmade or natural, we can still be aware of the likely impacts and issues that we are faced with in the event of a disaster or a business disruption.

"By putting in place a robust business continuity planning (BCP) programme, companies will be better positioned to deal with worst case scenarios that can impact their business operations. Business continuity planning enables a systematic response in the event of such disruptions."

While almost 60 per cent of participants claimed they had documented a continuity management plan for their organizations, they are not however, part of a fully-fledged BCM programme.

The types of business continuity planning that companies have taken include the provision of an alternative work site in the event one location is unavailable and an automated communication with the company's continuity management team. Having an established relationship with external agencies including the local police, fire stations and hospitals is another form of business continuity planning.

Nearly 38 per cent of the respondents revealed having more than 20 years of experience in dealing with business continuity planning one way or the other, although 40 per cent stated they did not have a specific individual to head or coordinate business continuity management in the organization.

Detailed results of the survey have indicated that a number of significant business disruptions in the past year were caused by network failures (45 per cent), followed by power failures (20 per cent), manmade disruptions including theft, hacking attempts, sabotage, poor judgment (11 per cent), and natural disasters such as sandstorms, floods and earthquakes (8 per cent). The economic downturn has further contributed to significant corporate business disruptions due to non-premptive measures by the corporate houses, according to respondents.

Mr. Dhiraj Lal, Country Manager for India and Middle East Region of BCM Institute, said: "It is alarming to see so many organizations in the region without a concrete BCM programme in place despite recent incidents that have caused multi-billion dollar losses. The findings from the report are strong indications that businesses in the region need to consider unforeseen events with a view to minimize organizational risks. Organizations need to learn from the past and act ahead by putting in place a business continuity programme that is robust enough to tackle disaster and disruptive situations for businesses.

"Business Continuity Management (BCM) programmes ensure that organizations adopt best practices through industry certification standards such as BS 25999-2: 2007, a British standard recognizing that organizations have implemented a sound BCM progamme."

Partnering with the BCM Institute, eHosting DataFort aims to continue educating customers about Business Continuity planning (BCP) and best practices through a dedicated disaster recovery services team. Supported by world-class, data centres that are resilient and scalable infrastructure, eHosting DataFort remains the region's market leader in the field of managed IT and advisory services.

Photo Caption from Right to left: Zeina Soufan, moderator; Yasser Zeineldin, CEO eHosting DataFort; Dhiraj Lal, Head of BCM Institute; Theuns Kotz, Regional Director Middle East & Africa, British Standards Intitute

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