The Business Continuity Institute defines business continuity management as:
‘A holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organisation, and provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response which safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities.’
A business depends on its ability to keep going in the event of an unforeseen incident. A 2011 survey by Information Week showed that 33% of businesses do not have a business continuity plan. Enterprises who fail to plan can find themselves in trouble, even after the problem has passed.
The risk of business interruption through unforeseen mishaps which leads to downtime or the loss of critical mission data should be enough of a worry to make people plan for disaster, but it can be expensive and a complex problem.
Few businesses in reality will find themselves left with just a smouldering pile of rubble, but planning for extreme events could mean the difference between make or break for your company if something should happen, from a mail server failure to a four day blackout.
Business continuity is affected by a variety of different scenarios. Power outages, network outages or the loss of a server in your data centre can all have an effect on how your business operates on a day to day basis.
At present, the margin of spare capacity on the grid in the UK is 14%, but this is expected to drop to just over 4% by 2016. On top of this, all six of the major suppliers have announced price rises this year or in the near future, which will mean a hefty bill for your basic energy requirements, and if you can’t pay, your lights go out.
The majority of IT outages are caused by human error. Gartner predicts: ‘Through 2015, 80% of outages impacting mission-critical services will be caused by people and process issues, and more than 50% of those outages will be caused by change / configuration / release integration and hand-off issues.’
Unfortunately, outages do happen. It’s planning for what happens next that is important. Businesses suffer an average of 14 hours of downtime per year, according to CIO Insight, and this can be costly.
The UK is famed for its overcast sky and rain, but this can be a burden if the rain turns to snow or there is flooding as we have seen recently. Climate change is making the weather more extreme, with more flooding and extreme weather events to come according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Extreme weather conditions can stop employees from getting to work. In the heavy snow of 2010, the cost to business ran to £1.2 billion per day.
Video conferencing can ensure that your business stays connected in the event of a problem. If you cannot travel to see clients for important meetings, video conferencing solutions can bring you together for a face to face conversation, so you can communicate as well as if you were in the same room. When disaster strikes, it’s highly advantageous to be able to communicate freely with those people who are important to your business.
For more information, check out video conferencing and business continuity, part 2 of this series.