Symantec Survey Reveals Risky State of Information in the Enterprise
One of the advantages that cloud technologies have afforded us is the ability to share and access content without having to create more than one copy. So you’d think there would be a lot less document duplication in the enterprise. But according to a new report from Symantec, you’d be wrong.

The Cost, Value and Risk of Information

According to the 2012 Symantec State of Information Survey, which examined how business and IT executives at 4,506 organizations in 38 countries store and access information, 42 percent of business information is duplicate. And that’s just the information that they can find. Additionally, they don’t really know how much of what is duplicate is important.

What does this mean? It means that the enterprise needs to re-examine its information governance policies. It isn't just that duplicate information can put information at risk -- it can also cost money. According to the survey, SMBs on average spend US$ 332,000 on information, while enterprises spend an average of US$ 38 million. But it’s not just how much money you spend, it’s the value of the information being created and stored.

Based on the responses from 4,506 IT professionals, an estimated 49 percent of the worth of an organization is derived from the information it owns. As a result, if any of the information were lost, it could be devastating to a business.

Symantec Survey Reveals Risky State of Information in the Enterprise

And yet, information governance strategies aren't sufficient to safeguard how information is created, shared, stored or destroyed. It isn't that companies are unaware, but rather that they aren't focusing on the right things. The survey shows that organizations have fairly low storage utilization rates, with 31 percent inside the firewall and an even lower percentage (18 percent) outside. In addition, two thirds of businesses said they had lost important information in the previous 12 months due to causes such as human error, hardware failure, software failure and lost or stolen mobile devices.

Symantec Survey Reveals Risky State of Information in the Enterprise

Get a Governance Plan That Works

What can you do to decrease the amount of duplicate information within your organization and subsequently reduce your risk? The report outlines three integral simple steps to help ensure sure your information governance program is on the right track:

  1. Ensure C-level buy-in for the information governance program. It’s essential that the corporate culture be focused on effectively protecting the information created, shared and archived by employees within the organization. Projects and information should align with common business goals of risk mitigation and cost control, which can reduce the potentially expensive tendency to silo different aspects of the organization.
  2. Concentrate on focused projects. Give attention to specific initiatives such as compliance, e-discovery and data privacy. With specific goals, procuring an adequate budget will be easier. Implement technologies with a high ROI such as e-discovery, archiving, deduplication and data loss prevention solutions.
  3. Establish the importance of your information. In order to effectively manage information, it’s essential to know what it is and how vital it is to business functions. Classify your current information to more easily make decisions concerning information storage, security and accessibility.

Businesses are facing huge challenges when trying to manage their information and it’s not like the rate at which information is created will start decreasing anytime in the near future. The sooner companies start developing and implementing information governance strategies that tackle the key issues, the sooner they can begin to take control of their information.