SMBs Are Not Prepared for Disaster

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SMBs are not prepared for disaster, according to a new study by Symantec Corp. Symantec quizzed personnel responsible for their organization's network and computers as part of its 2009 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey. In all, a total of 1,657 small and medium-sized businesses were covered, with 299 of these SMBs found in the U.S. and Canada.


State of preparedness


The results were dismal, to say the least. Here's a snapshot of some key figures I got from the North American data (pdf):

  • The average SMB backs up only 60 percent of its company and customer data.
  • Only 20 percent backs up data on a daily basis; 48 percent back up monthly or less.
  • A staggering 63 percent feel that they would lose 40 percent of their company data if their computer systems were wiped out in a fire.
  • 58 percent of SMBs do not have a formal data recovery preparedness plan.


What is particularly disconcerting is the fact that 77 percent of respondents say that they are located in regions susceptible to natural disaster such as earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.


To underscore the critical nature of the situation, small and medium-sized businesses say they encountered an average of two outages within the past 12 months. According to the report, the leading causes appear to be viruses or hacker attacks, power outages or natural disasters.


Interestingly, 91 percent of the respondents who do not have a formal disaster recovery plan say they intend to create one within the next six months. Of course, I would take this particular response with a rather large pinch of salt - why wait for a survey to expose glaring weaknesses before committing to make changes?




What befuddles the mind was an apparent disconnect between the perceptions of SMBs towards their disaster preparedness versus the reality. The situation outlined above is serious enough as it is. What makes it worse is the disconcerting mindset that customers would be patient and forgiving in the event of a disaster.


For example, an overwhelming 81 percent say that they are "somewhat/very satisfied" with their disaster recovery plans. In addition, 62 percent actually think that their customers would either "wait patiently until our systems were back in place" or "would call us to get what they could, but could wait patiently for the rest until our systems are back in place."


Other than in rural areas with no other providers, such thinking simply does not make sense.




Indeed, the findings are not particularly encouraging, given that other than employing more than half of the world's workers, small and medium-sized businesses comprise more than 99 percent of all businesses. Come to think of it, I would recommend SMBs ask to be shown some evidence of disaster planning before committing to large deals with an IT services company, but that's for another blog.


In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the state of disaster preparedness? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.