Business Continuity Management: ME should do better

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Businesses in the Middle East (ME) are unnecessarily exposing themselves to the risk of downtime, business disruption and catastrophic IT system failures according to the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). The majority remain unprepared and have no robust back-up plan and underlying processes for recovery in the face of emergencies that could range from Swine Flu to power outages. Even business which have certified BCM officers fail to test their crisis management plans at least every quarter.

A BCI survey of 75 organizations in the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Egypt and Jordan across a number of vertical sectors revealed that the ME really could be doing much more to plan for crisis recovery and build solid BCM practices. 70% of firms surveyed did not have plans in place, and nearly 25% had no plan at all to implement BCM in the future. These figures reveal a shocking lack of preparedness among local businesses that drive the local economy - especially energy, utilities and manufacturing - as well as foreign firms that should already have BCM in place in other geographies. It makes me wonder what the global figure would look like and how many firms would find themselves offline in the face of a crisis?
On the positive side, firms who have yet to implement a plan have at least got BCM officers in place, by and large, with 68% of companies saying they had a certified presence on site. Nearly 20% said they a robust plan had been in place for a number of years, and almost the same amount were about to put one into practice. The BCI said separately that it had seen enrollment figures rise in India and the ME, too.

I'm sure no one is surprised to hear that the highest cause of business disruption was due to IT system or network failures, followed closely by power outages. In fact, an average of just under 4 crisis events per year were encountered per company, leading to an average loss of US$4.5 million. The BCI said it even had record of recent multi-billion dollar losses. In that context, it seems to me that firms in the ME really need to weigh up the cost of a more progressive approach to BCM against these loss figures.

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.