Survey: IT and business leaders don't see eye-to-eye on disaster recovery preparedness

Survey: IT and business leaders don't see eye-to-eye on disaster recovery preparedness

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How much do your organization's top executives care about being able to recover essential data and functions after a technological disruption? If yours is like most, the answer is not that much.

That's just one of several disturbing results to come out of a new survey of 36 top executives and 192 IT and disaster recovery executives, conducted by the cloud-based disaster recovery provider Bluelock. Admittedly, that's not a very large sample, and Bluelock has an agenda. Still, the results suggest that what many IT executives say is true: Corporate leaders care less than they should about protecting the technology their businesses depend on.

In the survey, not a single top executive surveyed rated disaster recovery as extremely important and only half rated it moderately important. This compares to 60 percent of IT executives rating disaster recovery as extremely important, and 20 percent rating it moderately important.

What makes this especially surprising is that one-third of the organizations surveyed reported that their companies had a technology-related disruption within the past two years. And while only 31 percent of IT execs said that disruption had prevented the company from delivering goods and services, nearly 41 percent of top executives said it had.

The fact that they still don't rate DR as extremely important suggests either that they don't understand the role it plays in getting past a disruption quickly, or that other items, such as lowering costs or introducing new products, are more important to them than being able to do business without interruption from technological failures. And indeed, when asked why they didn't invest more in DR, half the top executives said there were other, more pressing priorities, and another third stated that it was too time-consuming.

When asked about the money they were currently spending on disaster recovery, 34 percent of top executives described their DR funding as very good, while only 19 percent of IT executives described it that way.

The most troubling finding in the survey should come as no surprise: While 73 percent of top executives pronounced themselves very confident that their organizations could recover from a disruption within the allotted time for doing so, only 45 percent of the IT professionals surveyed had that same confidence.

At the very least, that last finding suggests that communication between IT leaders and corporate leaders is badly broken since you have to think top leadership would take IT's word for how long disaster recovery takes if they were able to have an honest discussion of the topic.

While it's clear that many top executives suffer from excessive optimism when it comes to preparing for technological disruptions or security breaches, it's also clear that it's IT's role to get the truth across, make top leaders listen, and provide very clear warnings as to the risks their organizations are running. Because it's certain that if disaster recovery fails, it will be IT that gets the blame.

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and columnist for Inc.com. She is co-author of "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive," as well as several other books. She lives in Snohomish, Washington.

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