During the last 12 to 18 months, there have been a number of notable natural catastrophes and weather related events. Devastating earthquakes hit Haiti, Chile, China, New Zealand, and Japan. Monsoon floods killed thousands in Pakistan, and a series of floods forced the evacuation of thousands from Queensland. And of course, there was the completely unusual, when for example, ash from the erupting Eyjafjallaj\u00f6kull volcano in Iceland forced the shutdown of much of Western Europe\u2019s airspace. These high profile events, together with greater awareness and increased regulation, have renewed interest in improving business continuity and disaster recovery preparedness.Recent customer inquiries have reinforced my belief in that BC\/DR is back on the agenda for both business and IT executives. I\u2019ve even seen a renewed interest in BC management (BCM) software. And before I get a flood of blog comments, tweets, and emails from technology vendors, I'm not talking about replication and backup (and these technologies, while important to IT availability and continuity, are only a tiny subset of business continuity). I'm talking about solutions that support the BCM life cycle (business impact analysis, risk assessment, plan development, plan testing, and incident management). I have always been an advocate for BCM software, particularly for complex or distributed organizations that have to document complex business process and resource interdependencies and develop hundreds of plans, but it's clear that this market has never completely taken off. However, I\u2019m currently completing a market overview of this space and I\u2019m heartened by the growth reported by the vendors (my report will include 17 vendors). I\u2019m going to follow up this report with a market overview of BC consulting providers in Q2. I believe that 2011 will be a busy year for both BC consultants and BCM software vendors as companies and governments aim to improve the maturity and effectiveness of their BC programs.Yesterday, I read on npr.org that the U.S. Department of Education fined Virginia Tech $55K for its slow response to the 2004 massacre. Obviously, the $55K fine is nothing to an institution the size of Virginia Tech, but it\u2019s the message and the example it sets that\u2019s important. According to the NPR article, the Department of Education found that\u00a0\u201cVirginia Tech failed to issue a timely warning to the Blacksburg campus after Cho shot and killed two students in a dormitory early that morning. The university sent out an email to the campus more than two hours later, about the time Cho was chaining shut the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 more students and faculty and himself.\u201d Obviously, there was a failure in their basic emergency response planning, but I also can\u2019t help thinking that in addition to better planning and taking the threat more seriously, automated communication could have delivered messages to students more quickly by reaching them on any mode of communication available. What do you think? Is BC preparedness back on the agenda at your organization? Are you considering consulting services to help you or investing in BCM software or automated communication?Stephanie Balaouras is a Principal Analyst and Research Director for Forrester's Security & Risk practice. She will be speaking at Forrester's IT Forum, May 25-27, in Las Vegas.