Business Continuity Services Take Off

Wednesday 16th June 2010 | Bangkok Post | Link

Many businesses were hit hard by last month's political unrest, but the tumultuous events have stimulated growth for business continuity services, says a local consultant.

The recent political rallies and violent clashes that forced some businesses to temporarily close their operations and cut the revenues and profits of many others have accelerated investment in business continuity plans, particularly among organisations which have never developed such a contingency in the past, said Andrew Durieux, founder and director of Coverage Ltd, a local business and IT consultancy.

Asia offers significant potential for growth in the business continuity services sector. Economic development is driving rapid business growth, but many firms are at risk from expanding too fast without first putting in place plans to minimise and mitigate risk, said Mr Durieux.

"Today, there is a growing awareness about risk in Asia from a financial perspective," he said. "More people today are insuring their life, their house, their car and that's expanding to be business-type insurance.

"So the next step is to have risk management at the operational business level to ensure that bad events are minimised and that when some unstoppable bad events do occur, the damage is lessened."

Coverage, established in 2004, has provided business continuity planning services to clients across different industries -- including manufacturing, information technology, tourism, banking and finance, insurance and non-profit organisations -- on four continents.

Mr Durieux, 43, is qualified by the UK Business Continuity Organisation.

"The big problem in Asia is that there are few qualified individuals today who can do this work," Mr Durieux said.

The government and business sectors in Asian countries such as Singapore and Japan understand the need for risk management and are more pro-active than most of other countries in the region, he said. Their BCP markets which include insurance, risk consultancy, IT and security in those two markets are much larger than in other Asian nations.

"The most common problem in Thailand is that they don't have any plan," Mr Durieux said, adding that this was despite a number of serious incidents in recent years such as the tsunami, airport closures and riots.

"Many people are not aware there are systematic ways to lower risk. Those who have the plans, however, do not conduct enough testing of the plans whether they really work," he said.

More Thai companies, particularly small and medium-size enterprises, are expected to pay more attention to business continuity plans this year due to the disruption to their operations from more than two months of anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok.

The key for business continuity is having a specific plan and management system in place that allows for every type of scenario. Coverage offered clients the generic crisis management plan that can be implemented quickly for any organisation and for any type of crisis including fire, pandemic, IT disaster, flood and civil unrest, he said.