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Symantec survey reveals the total cost of digital information to Businesses is £714 billion

Symantec survey reveals the total cost of digital information to Businesses is £714 billion
Tuesday June 26 2012

Symantec has revealed the findings of its first ever State of Information Survey putting a number on the global cost of information to businesses at £714 billion annually.

Organisations possess massive amounts of information, from confidential customer information to intellectual property to financial transactions, that not only enable them to be competitive and efficient—but also stay in business.  In fact, the survey revealed that digital information makes up 49 percent of an organisation’s total value.

“The vast amount of information that organisations produce today can help them better serve their customers and increase productivity – from more effectively prescribing medication to using real-time observations to adjust prices. However, the same information can also become a major liability if it is not properly protected.  Companies that effectively use their information will have a major competitive advantage over those who cannot, and in some cases it can be the difference between success and failure,” said Matt Ellard, UK and Ireland Vice President, Symantec. “With its increasing value and rising cost, successful companies will find ways to more effectively protect their information and unleash the productivity it can bring.”

Information is Skyrocketing and It’s Expensive
Businesses of all sizes are dealing with vast amounts of data.  The total size of information stored today by all businesses is 2.2 Zettabytes. Small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) on average have 563 terabytes of data, compared with the average enterprise that has 100,000 terabytes.  The survey also reveals that information is expected to grow 67 percent over the next year for enterprises and 178 percent for SMEs.

On average, enterprises spend £25 million on information, while SMEs spend £215,000.  However, the cost per employee for SMEs is a lot higher at £2,383, versus £2,140 for enterprise. For example, a typical 50 employee small business spends £119,155 on information management, whereas a typical large enterprise with 2,500 employees would spend £5.3 million.

The Business Impact of Lost Information
The consequences of losing business information would be disastrous. “We would have to fold our operations for at least a couple of years before we’d come back again,” noted an IT manager at a large engineering firm when asked about the consequences of losing the enterprise’s information. Respondents in the UK highlighted the impact of data loss to their business including lost customers (48percent), damage to reputation and brand (36 percent), increased expenses (36 percent) and decreased revenue (35 percent),

Protection Measures are Falling Short
With so much at stake, protecting information should be a top priority, yet businesses are still struggling. In the UK last year, 65 percent of businesses experienced some form of information loss for a variety of reasons, such as human error, hardware failure, security breach, or lost and stolen devices. In addition, 76 percent have had confidential information exposed outside of the company and 32 percent have experienced compliance failures related to information. Another challenge is the amount of duplicate information businesses are storing – an average of 36 percent of data is duplicated. Storage utilisation is also low, at only 28 percent within the firewall and 16 percent outside.

All these risks and inefficiencies result in businesses spending more than necessary on storing and protecting their information. A key issue identified by 29 percent of businesses is information sprawl – the overwhelming growth of information that is unorganised, difficult to access and often duplicated elsewhere.

Businesses Need to Put the "I” Back in “IT”
To help businesses more effectively protect their information, Symantec has the following recommendations:
•    Focus on the information, not the device or data centre: With BYOD and cloud, information is no longer within the four walls of a company. Protection must focus on the information, not the device or data centre.
•    Not all information is equal: Business must be able to separate useless data from valuable business information and protect it accordingly. 
•    Be efficient: Deduplication and archiving help companies protect more, but store less to keep pace with exponential data growth.
•    Consistency is key: It is important to set consistent policies for information that can be enforced consistently wherever it’s located… physical, virtual and cloud environments.
•    Stay agile: Plan for your future information needs by implementing a flexible infrastructure to support continued growth.
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