PHOTO - Alex Ong, country director, Symantec Malaysia
Security solutions provider Symantec's global study - 2012 State of Information Report - shows that digital information makes up to 50 percent of a Malaysian organisation's total value, while globally digital information costs businesses US$1.1 trillion.
Speaking on 18 July 2012, Symantec Malaysia country director Alex Ong said the company's inaugural state of information survey, which included confidential customer information, financial transactions and intellectual property, showed that organisations use such information to stay in business as well as to remain efficient and competitive.
"In fact, the Malaysia findings of the survey revealed that digital information makes up 50 percent of an organisation's total value," said Ong. "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."
"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," he said.
"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," said Ong. "Successful companies will find ways to more effectively protect their information and unleash the productivity it can bring."
Symantec commissioned ReRez Research to conduct the State of Information Survey among companies with five to more than 5,000 employees in February and March of 2012. They contacted business and IT executives at 4,506 organisations in 38 countries. Within Malaysia, there were 100 responses.
Struggling to protect information
While large enterprises and small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Malaysia placed a high value on business information, they were still struggling to protect the information, said Symantec's principal consultant for Asia South region, Nigel Tan.
"Low storage utilisation rates, duplication of data, and data loss are issues that businesses of all sizes in Malaysia are facing," said Tan. "They can address these challenges by taking proactive steps to build an information-centric IT model to protect their valuable information cost effectively."
He said that 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. 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," said Tan. "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."
Tan said losing business information would be disastrous for an organisation. "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)."
"With so much at stake, protecting information should be a top priority, yet businesses are still struggling," he said. "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," said Tan. "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."
Businesses Need to Put the 'I' Back in 'IT'
"All these risks and inefficiencies result in businesses spending more than necessary on storing and protecting their information," said Tan. "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'," he said. "To help businesses more effectively protect their information, Symantec has the following recommendations: focus on the information, not the device or data centre: 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 centre. Not all information is equal: business must be able to separate useless data from valuable business information and protect it accordingly."
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