From confidential customer information, to intellectual property, to financial transactions, organizations possess massive amounts of information that must be collected, retained and analyzed to keep the business competitive, but it comes at a huge cost, according to security specialist Symantecs "State of Information Survey." Digital information costs businesses worldwide $1.1 trillion annually, the report found, but also makes up 49 percent of an organizations total value.
The total size of information stored today by all businesses is 2.2 zettabytesa zettabyte is a unit of information or computer storage equal to one sextillion (one long-scale trilliard) bytes. Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) on average have 563 terabytes of data, and the information load is expected to grow 178 percent for SMBs over the next year. That figure compares with 100,000TB for the average enterprise, where information loads are expected to balloon 67 percent over the next year.
A typical 50-employee small business spends $183,500 on information management, whereas a typical large enterprise with 2,500 employees would spend $8.2 million, and the yearly cost per employee for SMBs is a lot higher at $3,670, versus $3,297 for enterprise. Overall, enterprises spend $38 million annually on information, while SMBs spend $332,000. Despite the reams of data and substantial costs, the survey also suggests businesses are struggling to protect this information.
According to the report, in the last year, 69 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, 69 percent have had confidential information exposed outside the company, and 31 percent have experienced compliance failures related to information. Another major challenge identified by 30 percent of businesses is information sprawlthe overwhelming growth of information that is unorganized, difficult to access and often duplicated elsewhere. Data loss can have a major impact on businesses, including lost customers, which was cited by 49 percent of survey respondents. Other data loss impact included damage to reputation and brand (47 percent), decreased revenue (41 percent), increased expenses (39 percent) and a tumbling stock price (20 percent).
The vast amount of information that organizations produce today can help them better serve their customers and increase productivity. 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, Francis deSouza, group president of enterprise products and services at Symantec, said in a prepared statement. 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.