Business stuck in 'information glut': report

One in three companies can't recover files from back-up tape; 82 percent leave e-mail retention to staff

Business stuck in 'information glut': report
Business stuck in “information glut”: report

September 15, 2009

Australian businesses are in need of an "information intervention", with one in three organisations unable to recover files from back-up tape and 82 percent putting their email retention strategy in the hands of employees.

Research released today by Hitachi Data Systems reveals a need for businesses to address this "information glut", whereby growth and rising costs has led to inefficiency and inflexibility within information management.

The research shows one in every three companies across Australia and New Zealand with more than 100 full-time employees is suffering under the burden of excessive growth in digital information and/or the mismanagement of that information.

Only 5 percent of organisations that are experiencing an information overload say it has no impact at all, 69 percent say it has a moderate impact, 15 percent say it has a lot of impact, and 11 percent say it has a great deal of impact on their organisation.

Hitachi Data Systems Australia Chief Executive, Neville Vincent, says the data shows that managing both the growth and cost of storing digital information remain important organisational priorities.

"In fact, keeping the growth of digital information under control is currently a slightly higher priority than keeping costs under control," he says.

"Unfortunately, there is still evidence that a significant proportion of organisations are suffering from what Hitachi calls the ‘information glut’, which is leaving organisations at the heart of the Australian and New Zealand economies exposed.

"Information continues to be a key asset for every organisation. Managed correctly, it can fundamentally enhance a customer’s business, and it’s one of the keys to long-term business sustainability and growth."

The main causes of the ‘information glut’ are inadequate budget and staffing resources, and the fact that organisations simply have too much information.

"As would be expected, the larger the organisation the larger the burden, with government organisations more likely to experience the ‘information glut’ than primary production and trade and the service sectors," Vincent says.

The report indicates the need for what Hitachi terms an "information intervention", calling on Australian and New Zealand organisations to take a big-picture look at existing systems and improving them to better manage growth, reduce total cost of ownership, improve utilisation and enhance information governance.

Not only are one-third of organisations unable to recover files from back-up tape or respond to a court-ordered discovery audit for emails more than 18 months old, the vast majority of companies are charging staff with managing a mailbox quota at the risk of losing legally binding records.

The research identified three solutions to the "information glut", including: increase ICT budget, improved storage hardware architecture and new storage hardware.

"We don’t necessarily agree with the premise that more hardware is the best solution. Better management of existing infrastructure could provide the best return on investment," Vincent says.

According to the survey, the current economic climate seems to be having little impact on the decision making of the majority of organisations.

It showed 65 percent of organisations have not put their plans for information technology investment on hold, two-thirds of organisations are planning to invest in information technology, and 32 percent of organisations believe the current climate is an opportunity to develop a competitive advantage over other organisations within their sector.

According to Hitachi, moving from economic downturn to recovery is the perfect time to recreate an organisation’s information roadmap.

"Organisations that prepare now will be in a stronger, more competitive position when the global economy returns to bull market conditions," Vincent says.

While a majority of organisations have ICT budgets that accommodate for future needs, the research shows around one in four are only able to accommodate current requirements and about one in ten have budgets that do not even meet current requirements.

"The information glut facing organisations in Australia and New Zealand presents more than just a barrier to competitive edge. Mismanaging information results in pressure on infrastructure, financial burden, information downtime, compliance issues and increased risk," Vincent says.

According to the research, 10 percent of organisations have information infrastructure that cannot accommodate growth.

Only half can dynamically alter the performance or the cost characteristics of their applications when business requirements change, or have the capability to reduce multiple copies of the same files for efficiency (single instance storage).

On the other hand, there is a clear correlation between organisations whose IT budgets accommodate future needs and organisations whose share of IT budget for innovation has increased, whereby those spending more on innovation are more likely to have an ICT budget that accommodates future needs.

Organisations that increase innovation spending are less likely to experience the information glut and those that are spending less on innovation are more likely to suffer from it.

The research report was commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems through Sweeney Research.

The survey was conducted in July 2009 among 400 senior information and communications technology decision makers in Australia and New Zealand who are familiar with the ICT operations of their organisations.

Participants include Chief Information Officers, Chief Executive Officers, Directors of ICT and Managing Directors.

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