Study: Nearly 1 in 5 NC businesses have no continuity plan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. , Oct. 13 -- Despite the man-made and natural disasters that are a reality today, many North Carolina businesses are not fully prepared to maintain their business operations in the event of an emergency, according to an annual AT&T Inc. study on business continuity and disaster recovery preparedness for U.S. businesses in the private sector.

According to the study's report on businesses in North Carolina , nearly one in five does not have a business continuity plan developed. Additionally, the survey finds that a quarter of businesses in North Carolina markets do not consider business continuity planning a priority.

"By now, most North Carolinians have heard how important it is to make a plan and gather supplies to prepare their families for all types of emergencies from hurricanes to tornados to winter storms," said Bryan Beatty , Crime Control & Public Safety Secretary for the state of North Carolina . "But it is just as important for local governments and businesses to make plans for their continued operation in the event of a natural or technological disaster. Disrupted business operations impact employees, as well as their families, customers and the community. I encourage all businesses and local governments to develop and implement plans to provide for the safety of their employees and continued operations following an emergency."

AT&T's Business Continuity Study in North Carolina surveyed 100 Information Technology (IT) executives in the metropolitan areas of Charlotte , Raleigh , and Greensboro, North Carolina , working for companies with at least $10 million in revenue.

The 2008 AT&T Business Continuity Study finds that business continuity planning is seen as a "priority" by three out of four (75%) IT executives in the North Carolina markets surveyed. Half (51%) indicate it has always been a priority for their business, and one-fourth (24%) indicate it has become a priority in recent years due to natural disasters, security, and terrorist threats.

But while business continuity planning is considered important to most North Carolina companies in 2008, among businesses with revenues of $10 million or more, a sizable number of companies either do not view business continuity planning as a priority or do not have active plans in place.

-- One-fourth (24%) indicate business continuity planning is not a priority at their company.

-- One-fifth (18%) do not have/don't know if their company has a business continuity plan.

-- One-fourth (26%) indicate that cyber security is not part of their overall business continuity plan or don't know if it is or not.

-- One-third (31%) have not prioritized and set target recovery times for key business processes or don't know if this has been done.

-- One-fifth (21%) do not have/don't know of special arrangements for communicating with key executives in the event of a natural disaster.

Furthermore, a majority of companies (56%) have had their business continuity plans updated in the past 12 months. But less than half (46%) have had them fully tested during the same time period. While only 2% indicate that their plans have never been updated, one out of ten (12%) indicate they have never been tested.

"Businesses of all sizes need to be vigilant about continuity planning, especially in light of how the day-to-day demands of serving customers require an ever-expanding reliance on technology to get the job done," said John Craft , vice president of Enterprise Business Sales for North Carolina and South Carolina , AT&T. "However, a business continuity plan is not enough and in fact, not all companies have one in place. Organizations must regularly test and update their plans to reflect changes in their business so that, in the event of disaster or major security breach, they can be best-prepared to restore and maintain key processes and operations."

AT&T brings its own business continuity and disaster recovery expertise in running and managing some of the world's largest and most complex networks -- including its own -- to businesses worldwide.

AT&T offers a wide array of business continuity services, encompassing disaster planning, risk management, recovery preparedness and communications readiness. AT&T Business Continuity Services are comprehensive, providing enterprises with business-impact analysis, risk assessments, a full continuum of storage solutions, high-availability network solutions and network and IT security solutions.

The company also conducts Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) exercises several times a year. The largest of this year's exercises is underway in Charlotte this week through Wednesday. This event is the 51st technical recovery exercise conducted in the field for AT&T, but the first exercise ever conducted in Charlotte . These events are designed to test, refine and strengthen AT&T's business continuity and disaster recovery services in order to minimize network downtime.

"By conducting these exercises that simulate large-scale disasters and network service disruptions, AT&T is better able to apply and refine best practices for rapidly restoring communications to government and business customers," said Cynthia Marshall , president, AT&T North Carolina. "This exercise is one of the many ways we seek to be as vigilant as possible when preparing for disaster scenarios in the communities that we serve."

The NDR exercise taking place in Charlotte , at the Blake Hotel downtown, includes an extensive deployment of network recovery equipment. AT&T rolled in more than 30 trailers and emergency communications vehicles for the exercise. The NDR operations team onsite at the event includes more than 50 disaster response professionals, including a full Hazmat squad, which is practicing disaster response operations in the Charlotte area.

Throughout the past 10 years, AT&T has invested more than $500 million in its NDR program, which includes specially trained managers, engineers and technicians from across the United States , as well as a fleet of more than 150 self-contained equipment trailers and support vehicles that house the same equipment and components as an AT&T data-routing or voice-switching center.

For more information on the AT&T 2008 Business Continuity Study, visit http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=7922.

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