Years ago, I heard that information replaced oil as the commodity that powers the economy. This is definitely the case for information-intensive insurance companies.

We know we waste a lot of oil, and we could be consuming it a lot more efficiently. Is the same true of information? A new survey out of Symantec Corp says as much, noting that businesses worldwide spend a total of $1.1 trillion annually attempting to keep information organized.

Yet, there's a lot of waste and mismanagement going into that trillion dollars. The Symantec survey which covered business and IT executives at 4,506 organizations across 38 countries. Yet, 61 percent admitted they lost important business information over the past 12 months, 74 percent exposed confidential information, and at least 43 percent of all this data is duplicate. In other words, this is not a recipe for efficiency.

How did Symantec arrive at their $1.1 trillion estimate? They found in the survey that small to medium businesses, on average, spend $332,000 on information, while enterprises spend an average of $38 million. A typical 50-employee small business spends $183,500 on information management, whereas a typical large enterprise with 2,500 employees would spend $8.2 million.

Interestingly, per-employee spending on information is higher for SMBs ($3,670) than for enterprises ($3,297). This extrapolates to more than $1 trillion globally, for all businesses.

Symantec makes the following recommendations to ensure better information management:

Focus on the information, not the device or data center: “With BYOD and cloud, information is no longer within the four walls of a company. Protection must focus on the information, not the device or data center.”

Not all information is equal: “Business must be able to separate useless data from valuable business information and protect it accordingly.”

Be efficient: “Deduplication and archiving help companies protect more, but store less to keep pace with exponential data growth.”

Consistency is key: “Set consistent policies for information that can be enforced wherever it’s located… physical, virtual and cloud environments.”

Stay agile: “Plan for your future information needs by implementing a flexible infrastructure to support continued growth.”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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