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Symantec Analyst Relations

Harbouring Information Sprawl!

Created: 28 Nov 2012 • Updated: 25 Jun 2013
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by John Brigden, SVP EMEA

This blog was originally posted in Information Unleashed.

Imagine half the value of your business being buried out of sight; or that value residing on the devices your employees took home at night, possibly to be lost or damaged. It’s a sobering thought—and one that’s all too real in today’s digital world.

According to the Symantec 2012 State of Information Report, almost half (46 percent) of an organisation’s information is being stored outside of its own data centre on devices beyond the corporate firewall. That could be anything from confidential customer information and sales opportunities, to crucial emails and financial reports. This ‘information sprawl’ is like setting a match to your business.

In the report, information sprawl was identified as the culprit in more than one-quarter of survey responses as a “significant factor” in information mishaps. Mishaps like exposing confidential information through the loss or theft of a mobile device, as well as having problems just finding the information because of rampant disorganisation.

So why is it happening? Two key issues are at play here: mobility (including BYOD) and the cloud. The report reveals that smartphones and tablets now store 14 percent of business information globally, while nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of business information is now stored in the cloud. When you do the math and put all the survey figures together, almost 50 percent of all business information is stored outside the firewall. That means half of your business value is residing out of your control.

To safeguard your precious information assets, action needs to be taken urgently. As a global leader in security, backup and availability solutions, Symantec recommends a series of best practice measures to minimise the impact of information sprawl within your organisation.

First, to mitigate risk, your focus needs to be on the data—not the device or the data centre. With BYOD and cloud, information is no longer contained behind a company’s firewall. Second, your organisation must be able to separate useless data from valuable business information and protect it accordingly. Second, establish consistent policies for your information that can be enforced wherever it is located—whether it is in physical, mobile, virtual or cloud environments. Finally, be efficient: use flexible technologies like deduplication and archiving to protect more, but store less.

That final point is crucial. With so much duplicate data drifting around the organisation owing to information sprawl, it can be tough to get valuable information onto your C-level executives’ fingertips for decision making. Indeed, most enterprises have a long way to go yet before they can safely say they have mastered their information: according to the 2012 Symantec State of Information Survey, 42 percent of business information is duplicated. And that’s just the information they can find.

To get valuable data into the right hands quickly, you need a governance plan that works: one that decreases duplicate information throughout the organisation and reduces the risk. The report outlines three integral simple steps to help ensure sure your information governance program is on the right track.

  1. The entire corporate culture—from C-level to administrator—must focus on protecting the information created, shared and archived by staff. Projects and information should align with common business goals of risk mitigation and cost control, which can reduce the potentially expensive tendency to silo information.
  2. 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. 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.

Every organisation faces huge challenges when trying to manage their information—and the pace of information growth is set to surge not shrink too. The sooner your organisation begins developing and implementing information governance strategies that tackle the key issues, the sooner they can begin to take control of their information—and build more value from it.

To read the full 2012 State of Information Report, click here, or view the infographic here.