Trouble at the top – UK boardrooms face information overload

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There is an alarming lack of awareness at board level of one of the most valuable assets a business has – information.

New research reveals that some 92% of top UK companies rely on their IT managers to make decisions about what types of data are stored, who sees it and how it is ‘mined’ throughout the organisation. More than one quarter (26%) of the companies surveyed have no data management policy in place. The combination of these two figures indicates the need for boardrooms to put the importance of managing their data much higher up on the corporate agenda.

The survey into the UK’s Top 3000 companies (*1), conducted by NOP on behalf of Compaq, discovered that UK businesses lack the capacity to store all their data and are failing to capture the relevant types of data.

Instead of maximising the value of customer information, businesses are still concentrating on storing internal data, such as employee records. Almost all organisations (94%) claim to store employee information, while only 3% hold supplier information and just 2% store the sales history of their customers.

Surprisingly, areas such as financial and competitor information are seen as a low priority. Over a fifth did not know whether the data stored was of use or not.

“Alarmingly, the survey revealed that UK companies are not maximising their use of information,” said Donal Madden, storage business manager, Compaq UK and Ireland. “Data is one of business’s most valuable assets that can, if stored and mined efficiently, contribute directly to shareholder value. It is the currency of the digital age and, as such, should be taken seriously by the board room – not just the IT department.”

Many companies are unprepared for the new wave of data storage. Analysts predict that the rapid growth of eBusiness will generate a 400% (*2) increase in data over the next year.

The survey revealed:
• The majority of organisations have not invested sufficiently in new storage systems - and do not intend to to do so.
• Almost half (47%) of respondents spent nothing on storage last year, in spite of almost half (49%) claiming their data requirements had risen by up to 40%
• The management of storage remains very much in the domain of the IT department with minimal input from the COO or marketing function
• Some 84% did not know the cost of data downtime to their business, yet half of those surveyed have suffered downtime due to storage-related issues. Of those who did know, a quarter estimated that one hour of downtime could cost up to £10,000 ($14,455).

A separate study by Highground Systems, which specialises in the development of storage resource management software, showed that as much as 45% of the storage supporting the IT networks of businesses is wasted storing duplicate, unused and/or orphaned files.

“Traditional enterprise storage requirements are set to grow at such a rate that unless these companies find an effective management solution quickly, these inefficiencies will increase exponentially, said Callum Lavelle, vice president of European sales for HighGround. “Companies need to identify what’s being stored and why.”

Compaq’s Donal Madden added: “Far too many companies are literally throwing their money down the drain by storing irrelevant and stale data. Businesses need to increase the amount of information both on themselves and their customers.

"Companies must realise that data is the currency of the new economy. Without the appropriate data management strategy in place they risk alienating one of their most important assets – their customers. In the new economy, it will be the companies that value their data as highly as they value their brand which will thrive.”

“The research has clearly shown a lack of strategy and board level input when it comes to data storage management - what is worrying is that this could suffocate, or at least severely impede, the success of UK companies. Boards must take action now to implement company-wide data management strategies or run the risk of losing out in an increasingly global marketplace.”

*1 Based on a survey of 220 of the UK’s top 3000 companies by turnover according to Dun & Bradstreet
*2 Gartner
*3 ‘The Strategic Importance of IT, Myth or Reality?’ IDC Report, September 2000

Compaq Computer Corporation, a Fortune Global 100 company, was established in the UK in 1984 and is headquartered in Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Compaq

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