As Midwesterners survey the wreckage from last week's deadly tornadoes and the Southern states recover from April's devastating rain storms, the importance of business continuity and disaster recovery efforts is a topic that remains close to home for businesses and organizations across the United States.

A recent study by AT&T found that:

•84 percent of executives have responded to the need to prepare for disasters by implementing business continuity plans – an increase of 12% in over the past five years.

•Nearly two-thirds (65%) of companies take specific actions to protect their employees and businesses when the government issues an alert for an impending emergency – up 31% in the same timeframe.

The results from AT&T's annual business continuity study reveal a trend towards greater emphasis on planning and responding to potential threats. AT&T has conducted the study for ten consecutive years, surveying IT executives from companies in the United States with at least $25 million in annual revenue to measure the national pulse on business continuity planning.

Additional findings of the 2011 AT&T Business Continuity Study reveal that evolutions in technology and recovering IT budgets have enabled businesses to investigate new means for maintaining critical operations in the face of natural or manmade disasters.

For example:

•Eight out of ten (80%) executives indicate that their companies will be investing in new technologies in 2011, up from 72% in 2010.

•A majority (54%) of organizations surveyed currently use or are considering using cloud services to augment their business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.

•Use of mobile devices plays a role in 78% of business continuity plans.

•Most companies (80%) have systems in place that enable employees to work from home or remote locations, representing an increase of 14 percentage points in the past four years.

In addition, the security implications of social networking remain a concern for IT executives, even as their companies begin to integrate these tools into their business strategies. According to the study:

 •Three out of four (79%) of executives expressed concerns about the increased usage of social networking capabilities.

•More than half (56%) of companies allow employees to access social networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube from the corporate network.

•Two-thirds (67%) of businesses use social media to communicate with customers and stakeholders or to monitor for relevant news and chatter.

Mobility and wireless capabilities carry weight in business continuity planning as well as day-to-day operations for many companies, the study said.  

•Six out of ten (64%) organizations include wireless network capabilities as part of their business continuity plan.

•More than a third (38%) of companies plan to invest in mobile applications during 2011.

•Most companies (81%) allow employees to access work emails on their personal smartphones.

•Eight out of ten (82%) of executives are concerned about the potential impact of mobile device usage on security threats. 

For more information on the 2011 AT&T Business Continuity Study, including complete research results, regional findings and year-over-year comparisons, please visit