AT&T Gives Dallas Businesses an "A" for Effort

Here's some awesome news to greet you the day after a holiday off: AT&T is releasing today a study that says more than a quarter of all U.S. companies aren't prepared to handle a disaster, whether it's natural or man-made. The study indicated many of them have flawed or outdated--or non-existent--"business continuity plans" to keep their businesses up and running should everything around them start to come tumbling down. But say your not worried about hurricanes, since you live in Dallas. Or say you're unconcerned about terrorism, since you live in Dallas. Well, AT&T says you still got plenty to worry about: "Despite the devastating effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, nearly half of the 1,000 companies polled by AT&T also said that they do not take specific protective actions even when state or federal governments issue warnings for an impending disaster, such as severe weather." And last I looked, we do get some of that in Dallas. And the report also takes into account not only major acts of terrorism, but also cyberattacks or a major outbreak of computer viruses. Check and check.

This is the fifth such study AT&T has conducted by interviewing chief information officers and other senior information technology (IT) executives at companies throughout the United States--including Dallas, which got its own separate report card--with more than $10 million in annual revenue. And, actually, Dallas comes out pretty good in the report, which says that of the 100 IT folks in the metroplex interviewed, "those who have a plan are perhaps more prepared than any other market surveyed." So, yay for Dallas. Sort of. Other local results from the AT&T study, which are relatively good but also mixed (as in, 31 percent of local businesses insist emergency contigency plans are "not a high priority") are available after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky

The study also indicated that 54 percent of the 100 IT people interviewed "in the Dallas area" have updated their contigency plans within the last six months. Only Miami is as prepared, if you call just half of those surveyed having updated plans being prepared. Forty-two percent have actually tested those plans in the last six months, which the report says underscores "Dallas' high level of preparednes relative to most other cities." And while only half of those interviewed across the country said they actually do something when the government "issues an alert for impending disaster," 54 percent of Dallas companies said they routinely take action.

Seventy-one percent of the companies who say that having a contigency plan ain't a high priority insist that's because "the probability of a diasater causing a business disruption is small." AT&T editorializes here: That's a "surprising" statistic, reads the report, with the tsk-tsk barely contained within the lines. But only 20 percent of the businesses surveyed have no plan in place at all, which is of some comfort to the report's writers. Their overconfidence stems from the relatively small number of respondents who say they've ever suffered a disaster: Twenty-four percent say they've had some kind of minor incident, with half claiming it was due to a temporary blackout, while the other half say it was something cyber-related. Still, it's kinda stunning that 14 percent of Dallas-area companies insist cyber security "is NOT part of their overall business plans." That goes under the heading "Suckers." No? Well, it oughta.

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