Symantec Study Shows Discrepancy Between Disaster Preparedness Perception and Reality in Small- and Mid-Sized Businesses

Symantec Corp. announced the findings of its 2009
SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey, reflecting the attitudes and practices of
small- and mid-sized businesses (SMB) and their customers toward technology
disaster preparedness. The report shows a large discrepancy between how SMBs
perceive their disaster readiness and their actual level of preparedness. The
data also suggests SMB downtime costs their customers tens of thousands of
dollars each year. As a result, the findings show that SMBs can – and often do –
lose business as a direct result of being unprepared for disasters.

“The startling part of this research is the fact that SMBs don’t realize the
impact their outages have on customers, particularly when they have tools at
their fingertips to help them be prepared to deal with disasters,” said Pat
Hanavan, vice president, Backup Exec product management, Symantec. “While no one
wants a disaster to occur, the reality is that they happen. Rather than
continuing to be unprepared, small and mid-sized organizations can take simple
steps to protect their data. And, as companies communicate their plans to their
customers, they strengthen those relationships and become a trusted


Confidence High Regarding Preparedness

The findings show that SMBs are confident in their disaster preparedness
plans. Eighty-two percent of respondents say they are somewhat/very satisfied
with their disaster plans, and a similar number (84 percent) say they feel
somewhat/very protected in case a disaster strikes.

SMBs also believe their customers will be understanding and patient if there
is a disruption to their computer or technology resources. In case of such an
outage, only one-third (34 percent) of SMB respondents believe their customers
will evaluate other options, including looking at competitors.


Reality Shows Confidence Unwarranted

However, the practices of SMBs reveal that this confidence is unwarranted.
The average SMB has experienced three outages within the past 12 months, with
the leading causes being virus or hacker attacks, power outages or natural
disasters. This is alarming as almost half report they do not yet have a plan to
deal with such disruptions.

The survey found that only one in five (23 percent) SMBs back up daily and an
average SMB backs up only 60 percent of their company and customer data. More
than half of the SMBs estimate they would lose 40 percent of their data if their
computing systems were wiped out in a fire.


Customers Significantly Impacted By Downtime

SMB customers surveyed estimated the cost of these outages as being $15,000
per day on average. These outages were impactful as well, with 42 percent
lasting eight hours or more. One in four customers (26 percent) reported losing
important data.

According to the findings, two in five (42 percent) SMB customers have
actually switched vendors because they “felt their vendor’s computers or
technology systems were unreliable.” This is a stark contrast to the two-thirds
of SMBs who believe their customers would either “wait patiently until our
systems were back in place” or call “to get what they could, but would wait
patiently for the rest until our systems were back in place.” Another side
effect of downtime is damage to the company’s reputation. Sixty-three percent of
the customers reported that downtime damaged their perception of the SMB



Although 47 percent of SMBs do not have a formal disaster preparedness plan,
of those without plans, nearly 89 percent say they will create one within the
next six months. This is crucial as most SMBs (77 percent) report they live in a
region that is vulnerable to natural disasters (such as hurricanes, tornadoes,
earthquakes). As these organizations create plans, Symantec has the following

  • Determine your needs: SMBs should take time to decide what critical
    information should be secured and protected. Customer, financial and business
    information, trade secrets and critical documents should be prioritized. In
    addition, SMBs should monitor industry reports that help to identify and prevent
    threats that SMBs face.
  • Engage trusted advisors: With limited time, budget and employees,
    SMBs can look to a solution provider to help create plans, implement automated
    protection solutions and monitor for trends and threats that SMBs should protect
    against. They can also educate employees on retrieving information from backups
    when needed and suggest offsite storage facilities to protect critical data.
  • Automate where you can: Automating the backup process ensures that it
    is not overlooked. SMBs can reduce the costs of downtime by implementing
    automated tools that minimize human involvement and address other weaknesses in
    disaster recovery plans.
  • Test annually: Recovering data is the worst time to learn that
    critical files were not backed up as planned. Disaster recovery testing is
    invaluable and SMBs should seek to improve the success of testing by evaluating
    and implementing testing methods which are non-disruptive.


Symantec’s SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey

Symantec’s SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey is the result of research
conducted in August and September 2009 by Applied Research, which surveyed those
responsible for computers and technology resources at small- and med-sized
businesses. The report was designed to gauge the impact and stage of disaster
recovery preparedness, perceptions and practices of small- and med-sized
businesses. The study included more than 1650 respondents from 28 countries in
North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Asia Pacific and Latin


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