The Survey Says …..

Well, we’ve arrived at the last installment of my blog for 2011.  Thank you for following along throughout the year.  I hope my writing and insight has brought something new into your life and perhaps given you something to think about.  More importantly, I hope you’ve received something from my writing that has helped you live a more prepared life and become a better leader.  As I wrote in my previous installment, it’s been a terrific year and I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead in 2012.  I hope you are too.

Two business continuity related studies recently resurfaced on my desk this past week and as I skimmed through them I thought it would be interesting to see what message(s) could be pulled out.  One study was “Key trends driving global business resilience and risk” which is the findings of IBM’s 2011 Global Business Resilience and Risk Study .   The other is AT&T’s “2011 AT&T Business Continuity Study”  .  If your job relates to business resilience or business continuity, I encourage you to download both surveys and read them when you have some time.

How the surveys were conducted

The AT&T survey was an online survey of 401 Information Technology (IT) executives in four U.S. metropolitan areas that included: Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. The study was conducted by e-Rewards Market Research. Surveys were obtained between February 23 and March 17, 2011.  All survey respondents worked for companies having total revenues of more than $25 million.  Respondents had primary responsibility for business continuity planning, representing 18 major industry areas in addition to local/state government. Sixty-nine percent (69%) represent companies with locations outside of the U.S.

The IBM survey included responses from 391 senior executives—35 % of which are C-level executives.   About 39% of respondents are from North America, 38% from Western Europe, 20% from Asia-Pacific and 3% from Eastern Europe.  Companies with less than $500M in revenue comprise 39% of the responses, and 48% of the respondents came from companies with more than $1B in revenue.  The survey covers nearly all industries, including financial services (16%), IT and technology (16%), professional services (13%), manufacturing (8%) and healthcare (7%).

One key-note about the surveys … while AT&T’s survey addressed findings relating to traditional IT business continuity , the IBM survey was based on the concept of business resiliency which refers to the ability of enterprises to adapt to a continuously changing business environment.  According to IBM, resilient organizations are able to maintain continuous operations and protect their market share in the face of disruptions such as natural or man-made disasters.

IBM also claims that business resilience planning is distinguished from enterprise risk management (ERM) in that it is more likely to build capacity to seize opportunities created by unexpected events. Another difference is that while ERM can be implemented as a management capability, an integrated business resilience strategy requires the engagement of everyone in the organization, and often means a change in corporate culture to instill awareness of risk.

Business disaster

Are you prepared to recover?

Wow!  The idea to “seize opportunities created by unexpected events” is really a profound concept and should be, if not already, considered by those in the business continuity and emergency management fields.  Sure, we are taught to build continuity or recoverability into the process instead of backwards engineering it.  But, to build a process that’s capable of “seizing opportunities created by unexpected events” … that becomes a game-changer.  That really sets us apart from the competition!

What the surveys found

Organizations are adapting to an increasingly complex global environment with more holistic approaches to business resilience planning. Traditional business continuity plans—typically with a strong IT focus—are still critical, but they are becoming part of a bigger picture, as senior executives strengthen their oversight of enterprise-wide risk management. To ensure business resilience, companies are moving toward a risk management process that both addresses the myriad types of risk that functions across the organization face, and encompasses all facets of risk management, from its identification through to mitigation.

IBM’s research indicates that more and more businesses will adopt a more holistic approach to risk management in the next three years as they deal with growing uncertainty and the increasing interconnectedness of the varied risks they face. Only a minority (37%) of companies has implemented an organization-wide business resilience strategy, but 42% of survey respondents say they are likely to do so within the next three years. Almost two-thirds (64%) say they have a business continuity plan of some sort, and a robust 58% have dedicated contingency plans for dealing with a variety of risks.

AT&T’s survey found that evolutions in technology and recovering IT budgets have enabled businesses to investigate new means for maintaining critical operations in the face of natural or manmade disasters. Eight out of ten (80%) executives indicated that their companies would be investing in new technologies in 2011, and a majority (54%) of organizations surveyed were using or are considering using cloud services to augment their business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.

The security implications of social networking remain a concern for IT executives, even as their companies begin to integrate these tools into their business strategies. About three out of four (79%) of executives expressed concerns about the increased usage of social networking capabilities, though more than half (56%) of companies allow employees to access social networking tools from the corporate network.

Additionally, 84% of executives have responded to the need to prepare for disasters by implementing business continuity plans. And when the government issues an alert for an impending emergency, nearly two-thirds (65%) of companies take specific actions to protect their employees and businesses.

Not surprisingly, the IBM study found that larger organizations are more likely than smaller ones to have an integrated strategy for managing risk and business resilience.

Well, that’s it.  I wish you and yours a safe and very Merry Christmas.

Tip:  If you find yourself on another mind-numbing conference call, here’s a fun thing to do … draw a stickman!  Try this … www.drawastickman.com/

Coming up ….

My first blog in January will chronicle a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and a CERT Program Manager course that I’ll be teaching to tribal members.  I am really looking forward to this great opportunity

Also new in 2012, I’ll be replacing the “Tip” section of my blog with a new section called “Getting Prepared in a Year”.  In this section I’ll provide you with encouragement and direction so that over time (in small steps) you can assemble a terrific and functional emergency preparedness kit and take steps to be better prepared.  You won’t want to miss this!

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a recent report by the National Climatic Data Center said 2011 has seen more billion-dollar natural disasters than any year on record. This year alone, the U.S. experienced its first hurricane landfall since 2008, the most deadly series of tornadoes since the 1950s, significant earthquakes and severe flooding – hazards that impacted every region of the country.

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