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Business Continuity Planners

History

Business continuity planning is a relatively recent profession with origins in earlier times of recovering from wars and natural disasters. The profession was originally known as disaster recovery, focusing on strategies and plans to guide businesses and communities during and following disruptive events. The focus on recovery grew in the 1970s and 1980s, when businesses started using and relying on mainframe computers and were concerned about protecting these expensive investments in case of disruptive events. Recovery professionals created procedures to restore data that existed prior to the disruption.

Professional associations were established in the 1980s to provide resources, education, and information for recovery planners. For example, the Association of Continuity Professionals was founded in 1983 with a mission to protect lives, safeguard businesses, and foster community resiliency. The organization today consists of professionals who work in business continuity, disaster recovery, emergency management, or other disciplines that help build resiliency in businesses and communities. In 1988, the Disaster Recovery Institute (now known as the Disaster Recovery Institute International) was established to help companies plan for and recover from disasters, and in 1994, the Business Continuity Institute was founded. These organizations, as well as many others, continue to provide education, certification, and thought leadership in business continuity and similar fields.

The first companies that focused on the field of disaster recovery and business continuity included IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sungard (now known as Sungard Availability Services), among others. As the economy strengthened in the U.S. in the 1990s, interest in business continuity grew and continuity procedures became more standardized. Insurance companies, banking and finance organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and health care groups were early users of business continuity plans.

Major events in the years since, including 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, catastrophic hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters, have increased awareness of the need for business continuity plans to be in place. Today, business continuity planners use various tools and technologies to help businesses get back up and running after various types of interruptions. They also help organizations reduce disruptions by developing strategies in advance.