A study released today reveals the scale of the battle Irish business leaders face when business disruption hits, as a staggering 62 percent admit to suffering from stress-related illnesses and/or damage to their mental well-being in the aftermath of cyberattacks, IT outages or network failures.

In today’s hyper-connected world, with the C-Suite inextricably tied up with a company’s brand identity, research from Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) highlights the extent to which senior executives are linked to their company’s resilience. Findings from the study of 101 business leaders in companies with 500+ employees in Ireland, found a staggering 75 percent of CIOs/CTOs have suffered from stress-related illnesses and/or damage to their mental well-being after a crisis. When asked who takes responsibility at their company in the event of a crisis, almost half (49 percent) of respondents pointed to the CIO/IT Director/CTO, compared to just over a third  who stated the CEO (34 percent), going some way to explaining why such a high percentage of CIOs/CTOs are currently suffering.

One of the contributing factors to the stress-related illnesses and damage to business leaders’ mental well-being is the backlash that they receive, both online and in person, following an incident. More than 2 in five respondents (42 percent) state that they experience abuse online or verbally, and in some cases even physical threats. Moreover, over one in ten (11 percent) say that this criticism extends to their family and friends who also receive abuse verbally and/or physically.

The results demonstrate the real impact that having an effective resilience strategy has not only on the business and its operations, but also on the individuals in key leadership roles who are held accountable for it.

“This research has identified a new Resilience Imperative in Ireland, supporting the personal impact on the individuals involved,” comments Noel O’Grady, Sales Director at Sungard AS Ireland. “The lost business, costs to repair what is broken, and the reputational damage have not only a business impact, but a personal impact. Every board member within organisations must take a long hard look at their company’s approach to resilience today and ensure it meets the ever-changing array of challenges to it. The fact that both CIOs and CTOs are now increasingly aware of the ramifications of a failure on their watch, shows how important this has become. Having a resilient mindset, a plan in place, and the technological know-how to weather different IT storms will ensure companies of all sizes adhere to the Resilience Imperative.”

Companies have long known the financial and reputational impact of crises, with 55 percent experiencing a decreased share price following business disruption, and this research has revealed the negative personal impact it can have on a firm’s leadership. Over one in five (20 percent) respondents state that a result of suffering cyberattacks, IT outages or network failures, have resulted in a CEO departure. Again, the impact on the wider board members is seen with 27 percent of respondents saying that the causes of business disruption have resulted in other board level resignations.

Despite cyber-attacks (96 percent), IT outages (94 percent) and network failures (98 percent) being the top three crises faced in the past 12 months, the findings from the study highlight that these are not all expected to be the biggest tests to Irish business resilience over the next year:

  • Just under a third of respondents (32 percent) think changing global trade agreements will be the biggest test to their company’s resilience in the next 12 months
  • Almost 1 in 5 respondents (18 percent) think their biggest test will be cyber-attacks
  • 1 in 6 respondents (16 percent) think Brexit will be the biggest test to their company’s resilience in the next 12 months

About this research

This research of 101 C-suite respondents in companies with 500+ employees in Ireland was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Sungard Availability Services® in March 2019 as part of a wider piece of resilience research of 851 C-suite respondents in the UK, Ireland and US.

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.