Data loss continues to be a major problem for companies around the world, with few CIOs confident about their ability to recover data – and many lacking a plan to even try.

EMC has announced the findings of a new global data protection study that reveals that data loss and downtime cost enterprises $1,7-trillion in the last 12 months, or the equivalent of nearly 50% of Germany’s GDP. Data loss is up
by 400% since 2012 while 71% of organisations are still not fully confident in their ability to recover after a disruption.

The EMC Global Data Protection Index, conducted by Vanson Bourne, surveyed 3 300 IT decision makers from mid-size to enterprise-class businesses across 24 countries.

The good news is that the number of data loss incidents is decreasing overall. However, the volume of data lost during an incident is growing exponentially, with 64% of enterprises surveyed experiencing data loss or downtime in the last 12 months.

The average business experienced more than three working days (25 hours) of unexpected downtime in the last 12 months. Other commercial consequences of disruptions were loss of revenue (36%) and delays to product development (34%).

New business trends, such as big data, mobile and hybrid cloud create new challenges for data protection, with 51% of businesses lacking a disaster recovery plan for any of these environments and just 6% having a plan for all three. In fact, 62% rated big data, mobile and hybrid cloud as ‘difficult’ to protect. With 30% of all primary data located in some form of cloud storage, this could result in substantial loss.

Adopting advanced data protection technologies dramatically decreases the likelihood of disruption. And, while many companies turn to multiple IT vendors to solve their data protection challenges, a siloed approach to deploying these can increase risks.

The study found the enterprises that have not deployed a continuous availability strategy were twice as likely to suffer data loss as those that had.

However, businesses using three or more vendors to supply data protection solutions lost three times as much data as those who unified their data protection strategy around a single vendor. And those enterprises with three vendors were also likely to spend an average of $3-million more on their data protection infrastructure compared to those with just one.

EMC Data Protection Index survey participants were awarded points based on their responses, ranking their data protection maturity in one of four categories.

The vast majority – 87% – of businesses rank in the bottom two categories for data protection maturity. Globally 13% rank ahead of the curve, with 11% classed as “Adopters” and 2% considered “Leaders”.

China has the greatest number of companies ahead of the curve (30%) and the UAE the least (0%).

Very large enterprises of more than 5,000 employees were twice as likely (24%) to be ahead of the curve than smaller enterprises of 250 to 449 employees (12%); companies in the US and The Netherlands were the greatest vanguards outside of Asia Pacific and Japan (at 20% and 21% respectively).

“This research highlights the enormous monetary impact of unplanned downtime and data loss to businesses everywhere. With 62% of IT decision-makers interviewed feeling challenged to protect hybrid cloud, big data and mobile, it’s understandable that almost all of them lack the confidence that data protection will be able to meet future business challenges,” says Servaas Venter, country manager, EMC Southern Africa.

“We hope the global data protection index will prompt IT leaders to pause and re-evaluate whether their current data protection solutions are in alignment with today’s business requirements as well as their long term goals.”