Waiting for disaster to strike


At least a quarter of businesses in the UK are putting themselves at unnecessary risk by failing to prepare for crises such as IT or supply chain failure, according to a new report launched to coincide with the 36th World Standards Day.

The British Standards Institution's (BSI) Business Barometer surveyed 100 senior decision makers from FTSE 250 businesses across several industry sectors, including banking and financial services, engineering, retail and media.

Despite the recent spate of natural disasters and major business supply chain issues, the survey reveals a worrying level of complacency about business risk and a lack of planning for the unexpected.

Almost one in three of those surveyed (28%) believe businesses are not prepared for a failure in their supply chain, while a quarter think businesses are not prepared for a catastrophic failure of their IT systems.

Almost half (45%) also worry that businesses are not prepared for forced relocation due to unforeseen circumstances such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters.

"The FTSE 250 has a market value of over £200bn, and it is alarming that such a large proportion of businesses - around a quarter of them - do not feel adequately prepared for major issues such as catastrophic IT failure or supply chain problems," said Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards.

"It is vital that the hard-core of businesses without adequate provision put appropriate measures in place to protect themselves as early as possible."

demonstrate the vulnerability of business to respond to and recover from such events. The survey revealed a marked contrast of preparedness for crises between businesses which widely adopt British standards in other areas - such as quality, business continuity and environmental management - and those which do not.

Almost eight out of 10 pf businesses who adopt standards felt prepared to handle catastrophic IT failure, compared to fewer than one in three of those who have not.

"Standards provide a practical framework for managing uncertainty," Low added, "and, in addition, offer tangible fiscal benefits to business.

"There are tools available to help minimise the impact of crises and it's very high risk for businesses to ignore the benefits they provide.

"We hope these findings, released on World Standards Day, will demonstrate to UK businesses the need to employ the use of standards strategically to plan for the future, provide consistency and quality for customers and ultimately help protect and grow the bottom line."