AT&T Discovers the Small Business Disaster Prep Disconnect

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted June 07, 2012

As hurricane season starts in the United States, AT&T is sharing survey findings that paint a bleak disaster recovery picture for many small businesses that may get caught in nature's wrath this year.

AT&T discovered that despite the many ways today's computing technologies can help safeguard critical data, few small businesses are taking advantage of them. In the 2012 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, the telecom giant found that although 71 percent of small businesses recognized the importance of data recovery, a mere 31 percent made separate data backups over a network or across the Internet.

A similar tale unfolds when it comes to small businesses cloud adoption.

Cloud services enjoy near-universal awareness among small businesses -- 91 percent in fact, a solid leap from 68 percent last year. Alas, awareness doesn't necessarily translate into adoption. AT&T reports that cloud use among small businesses stands at 37 percent, a meager four percent bump from a year ago.

Flirting with Data Disaster

Results like these only cement the notion that most small business owners aren't grasping the devastating effects that a disaster can have on their livelihoods.

Monica Girolami, director of SMB product marketing for Symantec, minced no words as she discussed the results of a Symantec-sponsored survey on disaster preparedness last month. "SMBs have a reputation of being less than diligent with disaster recovery," she said.

Not only does that reputation seem well deserved, living up to it can lead to costs that quickly spiral out of control. "We've seen that downtime for a small business costs about $12,500 per day per incident," she informed.

It's not all bad news, however.

AT&T's survey did uncover some encouraging news from the "bring your own device" BYOD crowd. And considering that business data is being increasingly accessed and stored on mobile devices, AT&T's survey findings hint that BYOD is becoming a hallmark of resilient, disaster-ready firms.

The higher the headcount, the more likely it is that a firm will take steps to keep its mobile devices safe. Ninety-three percent of businesses with 51 to 99 employees report protecting their wireless gadgets. That figure dips to 77 percent for businesses with two to 10 employees.

Disaster Preparedness Resources

AT&T isn't just pointing fingers; it's also dispensing advice.

The company launched an interactive online tool called Quick Check for Disaster Prep (you'll find it under the Preparedness Resources tab at AT&T's SafeGuard Your Business media kit page). Users answer 10 questions that encompass both computer-related and practical, real-world emergency readiness procedures.

For instance, the quiz asks, "Do you check in with your insurance agent at least once a year to learn more about what new coverage is available and what to consider for disasters that may impact your business?" The topics of computer backups, emergency medical procedures and remote work topics are also broached.

Upon completion, users receive a score of one to 10 along with recommendations to improve their disaster readiness. The tool also integrates with the American Red Cross Ready Rating program, which provides additional resources to help develop a plan.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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