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Lack of data classification very costly to firms, says survey

Most data retained by organisations is not identified or classified and gobbles budget spent on storage, as well as being potentially non-compliant, reveals Veritas-sponsored survey

UK and European companies' data is overwhelmingly useless, and more than half of it (54%) comprises so-called dark data that is not identified and may contain non-compliant data, according to a survey by backup products provider Veritas. 

The survey, which questioned 1,475 respondents – including 200 in the UK – in 14 different countries across Europe, revealed that the remaining 46% of data has been classified and tagged, but 32% of all data is still redundant, obsolete or trivial. That leaves only 14% of corporate data classifiable as business-critical.

The study report estimated that a mid-sized UK organisation that holds 1,000TB of information spends £435,000 a year on redundant, obsolete or trivial data which is known to be useless. This means just 12% of the cost of data storage is known to be business-critical.

The UK public sector was revealed to have the highest proportion of dark data of all in Europe, with 76% of its data not yet identified.

The Databerg Report classified data in the following ways:

  • Business-critical data, which is identified and classified, and is vital to the operational needs of the organisation.
  • Redundant, obsolete and trivial data – everything from old business data to staff personal files – which is identified and classified but which is still retained despite having no use to the organisation and which costs money to store and maintain.
  • Dark data, which could contain anything ranging from business-critical information to non-compliant high-risk data such as adult material, but which the organisation has not identified – it is simply being stored without knowing what is there.

“Data should deliver on its promise and work for the organisation, but it’s apparent that in the UK it is the other way round. Companies invest a significant amount of resources to maintain data that is totally irrelevant for their businesses,” said Matthew Ellard, senior vice-president for Europe at Veritas.

“A typical mid-size company with 500TB of data wastes nearly a million pounds each year maintaining trivial files, including photos, music and videos.”

The study revealed a typical UK organisation reports dark data rates of 59%, higher than the European average of 54%, as well as redundant, obsolete or trivial data levels of 29% (32% in Europe), leaving just 12% (14% in Europe) of identifiable business-critical data. This equates, said the study, to wasted corporate resources of up to estimated £576bn to store redundant, obsolete or trivial data.

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