Dark data dominates SA's corporate networks

Read time 3min 20sec
South African organisations invest a significant amount of resources to maintain data they don't know anything about, says Nick Christodoulou, country manager SA at Veritas.
South African organisations invest a significant amount of resources to maintain data they don't know anything about, says Nick Christodoulou, country manager SA at Veritas.

Companies in SA have one of the highest rates of 'dark' data stored in their corporate networks.

This is according to the results of Veritas Technologies' Databerg Report 2015, which looked at how public and private sector organisations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) manage their data.

The survey provides insights into how 1 475 respondents (including 100 in SA) in 14 different countries across EMEA are dealing with the challenges surrounding turning data into valued business information.

According to the Databerg Report, 58% of data held by South African organisations would be unknown to IT professionals. This could contain everything from holiday snaps to pirated content, creating a high risk of non-compliance.

"The key findings of the Databerg Report 2015 demonstrate data is not currently delivering on its promise for South African organisations and reflects that companies invest a significant amount of resources to maintain data they don't know anything about," says Nick Christodoulou, country manager South Africa at Veritas.

"The study also reveals the discipline of South Africa's employees is one of the worst in the region. One in three employees would treat their company's IT as their own and upload photos, non-approved software, or copies of their personal legal and identity documents on corporate networks. This only adds up to 32% of trivial data South African organisations are currently holding."

According to the research, there are three major types of data stored by organisations today. The first is 'business-critical data' - data identified as being vital to the ongoing operation and success of the organisation. Business-critical data needs to be proactively protected and managed in real-time by professionals with clear responsibility to the organisation's management team, says Veritas.

It adds the second type is redundant, obsolete or trivial (ROT) data. ROT data needs to be proactively minimised and safely deleted on a regular basis, says Veritas.

The third type is 'dark data' - data whose value has not been identified. It may include vital business-critical data, useless ROT data, or most importantly illegal or non-compliant data, leaving an unseen liability at the heart of corporate IT systems, Veritas explains.

The study found a typical South African organisation reports dark data rates of 58% (EMEA average 54%), ROT levels of 32% (EMEA average 32%), leaving just 10% (EMEA average 14%), of identifiable business-critical data.

This equates to wasted corporate resources of up to an estimated R12 trillion in EMEA by 2020 just for maintaining ROT data if companies don't change their strategy and culture around information management, Veritas notes.

As organisations move more data into the cloud to cope with the escalating data volumes, study insights revealed cloud storage and processing will increase by a third from 33% to 45% across EMEA over the next 12 months.

With 48% of respondents in SA stating they will utilise cloud storage facilities by 2016, the country is ahead of the regional average, according to the Databerg Report 2015. However, organisations adopting these cloud services might not have appropriate policies to calculate the follow-up costs, switch to another provider, or retreat from the cloud in case of emergency.

Faced with the increasing dark data, organisations should identify dark data, expose risk and recognise valuable information, urges Veritas. It also calls for the prompt elimination of ROT data to reduce wasted costs.

Organisations must define a workable information governance strategy for unstructured data with C-level endorsement to encourage compliant user behaviour, and increase business agility by utilising cloud storage environments, Veritas concludes.

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