Business continuity becomes APEC focus

Business continuity becomes APEC focus

Sep 3, 2014


Business continuity protocols are important for companies across the Asia-Pacific, as the region suffers the largest number of natural disasters worldwide.

This is according to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), an intergovernmental group comprising 21 member economies.

Earlier this month (August 14), the forum said over 70 per cent of global natural disasters strike APEC members, which accumulatively have a total population of close to 3 billion people.

Vladimir Puchkov, Russia's minister for emergency situations, said at a meeting in Beijing that more collaboration and efficiency is required to deal with the damage caused by extreme weather.

"Losses from earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons and other disasters, as well as the risk of manmade emergencies, including those in the transport and energy complexes, are rising," he stated.

Dr Li Wei-sen, co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group, said one of the key obstacles was ensuring member economies were aware of disaster risks and understood the importance of preparation.

"There is a lot of ground to cover to build the capacity of economies, and the businesses and workforces that power them, to deal with the torrent of disasters in the region," Mr Wei-sen stated.

SME focus

One of APEC's main priorities is encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve business continuity measures.

As such, the forum is organizing group-training exercises that will help businesses to identify problems with disaster recovery and form teams to overcome them.

Risk-heavy SMEs are a key focus because they comprise 90 per cent of all companies in APEC economies, employing 60 per cent of the total workforce.

Natori Kiyoshi, co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group, said innovative technology must be used to bridge the gaps in disaster recovery plans.

"This is not limited to search and rescue but the whole process of disaster risk management - from preparedness to recovery and reconstruction," he stated.

One way enterprises can strengthen business continuity capabilities is to consider software that helps bring processes back online as quickly as possible.

Oracle disaster recovery solutions allow businesses to immediately revert to a standby database when a primary database experiences problems.

Therefore, if a natural disaster strikes a main office, standby databases kept offsite or in the cloud can be used to minimize downtime and ensure vital systems remain operational.

Recent figures from Aon Benfield showed that the most expensive natural disaster in the first half of 2014 was the February winter weather in Japan. The country, an APEC member, suffered US$6.25 billion of economic losses.

Steve Bowen, associate director and meteorologist within Aon Benfield's Impact Forecasting team, indicated worse may be yet to come.

"The third quarter historically is the costliest for natural disasters and is primarily driven by the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season," he said.

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