Top 10 UK business disasters revealed: Is your business ready for the worst?

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.


Managed IT services provider IT Specialists (ITS) has put together a list of the top 10 business continuity disasters to hit the UK over the past 12 months, including storms Abigail, Desmond, Katie, as well as a fire at Holborn and power cuts at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and Heathrow Airport.

The list of disasters encompass various business situations, from the Forth Road Bridge Closure in December where 80,000 vehicles were diverted daily for 19 days, to the Heathrow power cut which saw an outage for three hours and up to 4,000 people left without bags.

The full list of disasters, in chronological order from April 2015 to March 2016, were the Holborn fire; the Kennington floods; the Royal Berkshire Hospital power cut and flood; the Heathrow Airport power cut; the Hampton-in-Arden fire; storm Abigail; the Forth Road Bridge Closure; storm Desmond; storm Katie; and the Saltley recycling site fire.

The study was conducted for the Business Continuity Institute’s Business Continuity Awareness Week (BCAW) which runs until May 20. Matt Kingswood, head of managed services at ITS, told CloudTech: “We want to help businesses create and improve their business continuity programs, but first they must realise the need for one. With this research, we wanted to help businesses understand the types of incidents that could affect them.”

As Graham Jarvis pointed out for this publication back in November, the business case for data centres, specifically those associated with disaster recovery, have to be geographically dispersed. It’s just common sense. Even though in some instances you can assess how ‘disaster prone’ a geographic area is – minimal resistance to flooding among others was one of the key criticisms of China as a cloud ready nation according to a recent report – Kingswood argues disasters ‘of all sorts’ are becoming more frequent in the UK.

“This increases the urgency of having a business continuity programme,” he explains. “Investing in forward planning can save valuable time, protect the organisation’s revenue and preserve its customer base.”

Kingswood argued the extent of the downtime was not especially surprising, but said not all businesses were as prepared as they could be over business continuity. “We’re seeing progress, but still too many businesses either don’t have a business continuity programme or don’t understand what business continuity entails,” he says.

“There are those who put a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solution in place and all but forget about it. However, to avoid wasting money on a product that doesn’t function as needed in the aftermath of a disaster, businesses need to work with their DRaaS providers to test the solution and have a plan for coping with power outages and other consequences of a disaster.”

You can find out more about ITS here.

Read more: Opinion: How to achieve a solid business continuity strategy

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