Business continuity, mobility plans lacking, study finds

Public and private sector companies overconfident, Telework Exchange says

There’s a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. A new Telework Exchange study suggests a number of IT organizations have crossed that line and have an inflated confidence in their companies’ ability to continue operations in the event of an emergency that necessitates working remotely.

There’s a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. A new study suggests a number of IT organizations have crossed that line and have an inflated confidence in their companies’ ability to continue operations in the event of an emergency (such as a pandemic) that necessitates working remotely.

The Telework Exchange set out to evaluate companies’ business continuity and mobile IT infrastructure resources. The group’s study, titled “Mobilizing Against Pandemic,” found that 81% of government and business IT decision makers have written business continuity plans. However, both sectors reported implementation challenges and lacked assurance that employees could work remotely during an emergency.

A familiar problem the study identified is lack of support from managers. According to respondents, nearly one in three organizations experience management challenges while testing their business continuity plans. Telework Exchange suggests that having managers telework themselves could improve acceptance.

Inadequate remote access technology is another roadblock. In the study, 44% of government agencies and 22% of businesses said they don’t provide remote network access to all employees. Far too many companies also neglect mobile system support. Forty-six percent of public-sector and 39% of private-sector organizations said they don’t provide mobile tech support to employees.

“The benefits of mobility are clear – not preparing for a business continuity situation can hinder organizational performance,” said Cindy Auten, general manager of Telework Exchange. “Plans must be in place, but organizations need to also focus on engaging management and ensuring employees are well-equipped to work remotely. The writing is on the wall. Failing to act would be reckless.”

Mobile security is another area that needs attention. Survey respondents admit one in seven laptops lacks built-in security. Organizations need to select laptops with integrated security features, including encryption as well as establish written policies and require comprehensive security training for all employees, Telework Exchange recommends.

“It is no longer a question of if, but when organizations will need to utilize their business continuity plans,” said Nigel Ballard, director of federal marketing at Intel, which sponsored the study. “The reality is that IT has a false positive on plans and falls short on implementation. Organizations must assess current inventory and address shortfalls, before operations grind to a halt."

The full study results are available here.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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