By Amit Roy Choudhury
Just over half, or 58 per cent, of Singapore's small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are confident of their ability to overcome an unforeseen disaster.
This is coupled with the 74 per cent of SMBs which do not have a formal disaster recovery plan in place.
These data points come from Symantec's 2012 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey.
This lack of preparation for a potential disaster can come at a high cost and has significant impact on local SMBs.
Survey findings reveal that in a typical outage, Singapore SMBs suffered loss of productivity (57 per cent), data (53 per cent), revenue (38 per cent) and labour costs to recover from outage (34 per cent).
Speaking to BizIT, Symantec's Tan Yuh Woei noted that more than half of Singapore respondents (57 per cent) stated the lack of interest shown by the management as a factor when asked about what affects their overall disaster preparedness.
This is followed by being busy with other IT issues (51 per cent). In addition, almost half (49 per cent) of the respondents faced difficulties with staffing at the appropriate level or with the suitable skill sets and inadequate budgets.
"While no one wants a disaster to occur, the reality is that they happen. Over half (54 per cent) of local SMBs are affected by hardware, software and network failures, which are critical components to operate just about any businesses today.
"On average, Singapore SMBs experienced seven recovery failures in the past 12 months, yet the majority (72 per cent) trust their ability to recover from their existing backups," Mr Tan, who is Symantec's Singapore country director, said.
He added: "These are serious misconceptions. The reality is that these Singapore SMBs are not prepared and as mentioned earlier, 74 per cent of them do not have a plan for disasters or business disruption."
This is an increase of 36 per cent when we compare against findings from Symantec's 2011 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey, where 38 per cent of Singapore respondents did not have a plan, he added. To stress why the ability to recover from a disaster was so important, Mr Tan noted that SMBs account for about 99 per cent of all enterprises in Singapore and contribute to 60 per cent of the total value added in the economy. The sector also employs seven out of 10 of the country's workforce.
"Undoubtedly, SMBs are powerful economic forces but they often forgo basic protections against business risks due to lack of time, budget and staff resources.
"Disaster planning can all too often appear at the bottom of the investment priority list as SMBs focus on channelling all their efforts into propelling business growth," Mr Tan said.
The Symantec official noted that fortunately for SMBs, strategic IT trends such as virtualisation, cloud computing and mobility, not only provide a means for improving current business processes but can also serve as key components of a disaster preparedness strategy.
"Symantec's latest survey revealed that disaster preparedness is, in fact, closely connected with SMBs' adoption of these technologies. The survey also revealed the willingness of SMBs in adopting these technologies, often with improved disaster preparedness as a goal, and how the move is paying off for them."
He observed that when asked about the status of their involvement with these major technologies, 44 per cent of the SMB survey respondents said they are using mobile devices to access business information and 40 per cent are implementing or have already deployed server virtualisation.