Information technology doesn't remain the same over the years, and neither can disaster recovery plans. A new study from AT&T shows that businesses and organizations have stepped up their planning, as they move to include such major new factors as mobile Relevant Products/Services devices, the "bring your own device" trend, social networks and cloud Relevant Products/Services computing.

The new study found a 12 percent increase over the 2011 report in efforts to prioritize planning and implementation of a business Relevant Products/Services continuity plan. In all, 83 percent of executives see the need for such planning being a priority. Eighty-six percent already have a business continuity plan in place in case of a disaster or threat Relevant Products/Services, which is an increase of 8 percent over the last five years.

Mobile Networks

This annual study of business continuity has been conducted by AT&T over the past 10 years, surveying IT executives at companies with at least $25 million in annual revenue. It was based on responses from 504 IT executives with primary responsibility for business continuity in five metropolitan areas in the U.S. -- Austin/San Antonio/Houston, Los Angeles/Orange County, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Tampa/Orlando, Ohio, and New York City.

Mobile security Relevant Products/Services services and cloud computing have become major parts of current contingency plans, according to the study. Sixty percent of respondents are investing in mobile security services, and 38 percent are making investments in cloud computing.

Two-thirds of executives are including wireless network capabilities in their business continuity plans, and more than half -- 52 percent -- expect that spending for mobile security services will increase. Sixty-five percent of responding companies will be investing in new telecommunications technologies to support their expanded IT infrastructures.

As mobile devices and social networking boom, the study found that most respondents -- 87 percent -- are more concerned about potential threats from mobile networks and devices than the 76 percent who feel the same way about social networks.

The Turning Point of 9/11

AT&T found that 29 percent of respondents have actually used their contingency planning, with the most frequent reasons being extreme weather, power outages at facilities, or IT failure.

Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, noted that a key "historic event" in the shift of companies' attention about business continuity was 9/11. She said that her research has indicated that CIOs, CTOs, and IT managers had "a much harder time" before 9/11 in securing approvals for backup Relevant Products/Services and continuity plans.

Another specific change, she said, was that off-site backups were sometimes located within a half-mile or less from the company, but the folly of that became apparent on that day in September, especially for Wall Street firms. Now, DiDio noted, the "conventional wisdom" is that off-site locations should be 10 to 15 miles away.

DiDio also pointed out that the explosive growth in cloud services can make disaster planning easier, "but only if you're using a reputable provider" and if the service agreement includes specific guarantees for disaster recovery.