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5 steps for how to better manage your data

Thor Olavsrud | July 6, 2012
Are you staying on top of your data? If so, are you able to leverage it?

Are you staying on top of your data? If so, are you able to leverage it?

According to a new report by Symantec, the total size of information stored by all businesses today is 2.2 zettabytes. Enterprises, on average, have 100,000 terabytes of information, while small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) on average have 563 terabytes of data. Moreover, that number is expected to grow 67 percent over the next year for enterprises and 178 percent for small and mid-sized businesses.

Those numbers can be difficult to visualize. So try this: 10 kilobytes is about the equivalent of a single sheet of paper filled with text. If you were to stack those sheets of paper, 1 million terabytes (or sheets of paper) would give you a stack as high as the Empire State Building (1,454 feet). And 2.2 zettabytes would be enough for 1,287 Empire State Building-sized stacks of paper, about 374 miles.

"Information is becoming so critical," says C.J. Desai, senior vice president of the Information Management Group at Symantec. "The growth in information is very rapid. Organizations need to have a full grasp of how, where and why it is growing."

Desai notes that a 20-year IT manager veteran at one financial services firm said he is now adding more data to his data centers per day than he used to add per year in the 1990s.

Enterprises Spend $38 Million a Year on Data

The reason organizations need to understand their information growth is clear, Desai says: Worldwide spending on business information is now $1.1 trillion per year. Breaking it down, enterprises spend an average of $38 million on information per year, according to Symantec, while SMBs on average spend $332,000.

"The vast amount of information that organizations produce today can help them better serve their customers and increase productivity," says Francis deSouza, group vice present for Enterprise Products and Services at Symantec. "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. 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."

On average, respondents say that information represents 49 percent of their organizations' value. And that means loss of the information could be catastrophic due to loss of customers, brand damage, decreased revenues, increased expenses and more.

"Companies are saying it's almost half of their value," Desai says. "All of their IP is in their data. If that information gets lost and you don't have a chance of recovery because of some natural disaster or machine failure, what does that really do?"


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