Symantec Survey Reveals Digital Information Costs Businesses US$1.1Trillion Globally

Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) announced that information costs businesses worldwide US$1.1 trillion annually, according to its first ever 2012 State of Information Survey. From confidential customer information, to intellectual property, to financial transactions, organisations possess massive amounts of information that not only enable them to be competitive and efficient – but also stay in business. In fact, the Malaysia findings of the survey revealed that digital information makes up 50 percent of an organisation’s total value.

“In Malaysia, the rapid growth of digital information is inevitable with several national initiatives of the government, including the Digital Malaysia programme which aims to advance our country towards a developed digital economy by 2020,” said Alex Ong, country director of Symantec Malaysia. “While organisations in the digital economy could leverage on the information they generate every day to better serve customers and increase productivity, the same information can be a major liability if not properly protected and managed.”

Ong added, “Organisations in Malaysia that use and manage their information effectively will have a huge competitive advantage over those who cannot, and in some cases it can be the difference between success and failure. Successful companies will find ways to more effectively protect their information and unleash the productivity it can bring.”

(L-R )Alex Ong ,
 Country Director for Symantec Malaysia 
and Nigel Tan, 
Principal Consultant for Symantec Asia South Region

According to Nigel Tan, Symantec’s principal consultant for Asia South Region, the survey found that while large enterprises and small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Malaysia place a high value on business information, they still struggle to protect the information effectively. “Low storage utilisation rates, duplication of data, and data loss are issues that businesses of all sizes in Malaysia are facing. They can address these challenges by taking proactive steps to build an information-centric IT model to protect their valuable information cost effectively,” said Tan.

Information is Skyrocketing and It’s Expensive

Businesses of all sizes are dealing with enormous amounts of data. The total size of information stored globally today by all businesses is 2.2 zettabytes. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) 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 globally over the next year for enterprises and 178 percent for SMBs.

On average, enterprises worldwide spend US$38 million annually on information, while SMBs spend US$332,000. However, the yearly cost per employee for SMBs is a lot higher at US$3,670, versus US$3,297 for enterprise. For example, a typical 50-employee small business spends US$183,500 on information management, whereas a typical large enterprise with 2,500 employees would spend US$8.2 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 from Malaysia highlighted the impact of data loss to their business, including loss of customers (50 percent), damage to reputation and brand (45 percent), increased expenses (41 percent) and) decreased revenue (37 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 last year, 79 percent of businesses in Malaysia 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, 98 percent of businesses in Malaysia have had confidential information exposed outside of the company, and 46 percent have experienced compliance failures related to information. Another challenge is the amount of duplicate information businesses are storing – an average of 42 percent of data is duplicated. Storage utilisation is also low, at only 16 percent within the firewall and 10 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 30 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 center: With BYOD (bring your own device) and cloud IT trends, information is no longer within the four walls of a company. Protection must focus on the information, not the device or data center.
  • 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 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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