Survey underscores financial, operational impact of data disasters
Business executives and IT managers can no longer plead ignorance to the threat of data loss or breach, as high-profile incidents have threatened the operations and reputations of organizations across numerous sectors in the past 18 months.
The trouble is, many decision-makers need to see concrete evidence of the potential damage before ushering in a series of meaningful reforms. Such inspiration has come in the form of a new report from independent researchers at Vanson Bourne, which revealed the steep economic and operational toll faulty data protection can take on an organization over time.
Lost data means lost revenue
In the provocative assessment, researchers polled 250 IT decision-makers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to analyze the current state of data management within firms from Los Angeles to Paris. Although there were some notable differences across regions, one theme that held constant across the sample was the susceptibility to data disasters.
One in five survey respondents tasked with managing workloads between 2TB and 7TB in volume indicated that their firm's had suffered at least one occurrence of data loss within the past 12 months. Within this subset, more than half reportedly weathered two or three incidents in that time.
Aside from the potential impact of customer privacy or operational efficiency, respondents suggested that there was a clear correlation between data lost and lost revenue. Among those companies suffering a data disaster, the average cost of resolution was equated to between 2 percent and 5 percent of annual revenues. In the northeastern United States - home to financial and commercial hubs such as Philadelphia, Boston and New York City - that statistic rose to as much as 10 percent of total revenue.
"As we peeled away the layers on this research, a troubling picture emerged: The level of data loss is huge, and only a few organizations are employing data protection best practices," research coordinator Terry Cunningham noted. "When largely preventable data loss conservatively costs businesses hundreds of millions of dollars annually, it is time to rethink your priorities. Our survey reinforces that protecting digital assets can bring far-reaching benefits well beyond that of securing a competitive advantage - it can also prevent significant economic loss."
In total, analysts quoted the total financial impact of poor data protection practices at $400 million annually for U.S. companies alone.
Data loss incidents prevalent, but preventable
While these findings are somewhat concerning, they should go a long way toward raising awareness and inspiring more determined action. The silver lining, of course, is the fact that many of these disasters reported were not perpetrated by some kind of amorphous outside threat. In fact, the vast majority could have been stopped in their tracks by shoring up in-house data backup and recovery fundamentals.
The obvious answer to preventing or mitigating the impact of data loss is to ensure multiple copies of vital information are secured in an organization's storage environment. Simple data backups can go a long way toward improving a company's business continuity stance as it immediately nullifies the risks associated with solitary storage strategies that equate to putting all of one's eggs in the same basket. However, more refined strategies include provisions for remote data storage as well to account for unforeseen events such as prolonged power outages or natural disasters that could compromise operations at a company's primary facility.
Offsite tape vaulting has been a reliable means of addressing such concerns for several years, and many larger firms now have tape libraries that preserve data spanning several decades. While this trustworthy storage media continues to be the base of data backup and recovery operations, researchers also noted that it may be wise to investigate complementary cloud-based services to handle some of the escalating burden in the era of big data.