There are two classifications of disasters that affect organizations.
The first disaster classification is Catastrophic. Typically environmental (weather, geological) but regardless of the cause, these events are nearly always widespread, well documented and often prominent in the news. People far beyond the affected area are well aware of the event and its outcome.
Generally, disaster recovery budgets are allocated to addressing outages associated with catastrophic events. For that reason, they are typically spread across an organization’s entire technology infrastructure without considering specific applications and their impact on a company or department.
A second and often unfortunately overlooked disaster category is called Clinical, which typically affects a small number of companies. Human error or a malicious act is often the clinical disaster’s cause.
Devastating to the company’s operation, these events, are seldom, if ever, explained or even documented, due to their unique nature. It’s human nature; no one wants to talk about them. While news broadcasts generate empathy across the customer base during a catastrophic disaster, our natural embarrassment keeps us from telling anyone about clinical events. Or worse, word “gets out” and suddenly the same company that garnered sympathy during a catastrophic event must now defend itself – “How could they not have known?” It’s a cruel dichotomy allowing a company to appear unprepared but still worthy of respect when it experiences a catastrophic disaster. It is ruthlessly dropped when unable to anticipate a single human issue.
Often in these situations, a company will consider alternate suppliers and if it loses enough customers or key employees leave, a downward spiral towards business failure can start. The net effect is that a single, focused event such as an equipment failure or security breach can trigger a company’s decline – leading to an inability to compete – or a halt to growth. It’s hard to tell which is worse but regardless the company will not exist in its current form for very long.