Workplace incidents, not IT issues, are now top cause of downtime for UK businesses

Power outages and communication failures are the top causes of business disruption in the UK.

Power outages and communication failures are the top causes of business disruption in the UK, according to SunGard Availability Services' annual analysis of business disruptions.

The analysis found a significant rise in communication failures such as disruptions relating to telephone or network outages compared with previous years.

In 2008, less than 2% of invocations were brought about because of communications, rising to 25% last year.

Businesses should take note of the rise in communication failures, the report says, in the light of the widespread adoption of smartphones, tablets and cloud computing to make data available from any location at any time.

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The analysis also found that almost three times as many business disruptions took place because of workplace incidents than because of technology failures.

Technology failures, involving hardware or other IT issues, fell by almost half on 2009 figures, establishing the office itself as the main source of business disruption.

The percentage of business disruptions caused by communication failures has risen sharply for the second year in a row, which is a worrying trend, says Keith Tilley, managing director UK and executive vice-president Europe for SunGard.

"The adoption of smartphones and virtual desktop environments might provide users with available data around the clock, but there is little point in having this if reliable, resilient network access cannot be guaranteed. In today's economic environment, companies can ill afford for employees to be incommunicado for any period of time," he says.

For the first time ever, SunGard found no invocations relating to data corruption. Hardware failure, however, remains a considerable threat to organisations. Despite being knocked from the number one position for the first time, hardware failure emerged as the third greatest cause of disaster declarations, accounting for 23% of overall invocations.

"Overall there were fewer invocations in total than in 2009, suggesting that the use of virtualised recovery and managed IT offerings as a means to ensuring business continuity is making a real difference to UK plc," says Tilley.

As offerings continue to develop, businesses should continue to adhere to the mantra that "prevention is better than cure".

Having the capabilities in place to recover from disruption quickly and effectively is essential, but the avoidance of needing to enter the recovery phase is always preferable, says Tilley, and organisations should bear this in mind when factoring predictable and unpredictable business disruptions into their operational and IT business strategies.

"Ultimately, snow, strikes or floods should no longer be excuses for a dip in productivity," he says.

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