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Research reveals UK SMBs are struggling to manage company data effectively

August 2018 by Seagate

Seagate Technology plc reveals new research into the data habits of the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), suggesting that many British companies are finding it hard to store and manage their company’s data effectively.

© Stephen VanHorn

The research polled a representative sample of 1,006 UK SMB employees, asking them about their employers’ data storage practices, preparedness for GDPR, cybersecurity policies, and how often they delete outdated files from their work computers and company servers.

Over a fifth of SMBs rely on USB drives for company data

• Only 35% of SMBs have company storage centralised with on-site servers
• 29% use cloud-based storage solutions, while a sizable 23% of SMB employees reported using portable storage such as USB drives as their primary way of storing company data

Storing company data in disparate locations represents a significant security risk, as well as making it time-consuming for staff to sift through lots of documents to find what they need. Rapidly-growing SMBs need data storage that can grow with them, which is why network-attached storage (NAS) systems are an ideal solution for UK businesses. NAS drives allow businesses to store many different types of data in one location, as well as schedule regular backups, and because of this they are the safest, most secure and cost-effective way to centralise company data.

A change in work culture is shaping data storage requirements

Brits’ work habits are changing: at least 14% of employees in the UK work from home, according to the Office of National Statistics. Seagate’s research found that the proportion of employees who work from home is as much as two thirds of those surveyed, suggesting that SMBs are ahead of the curve on Brits’ preferred work habits. The rise of mobile devices has given many of us an expectation of being ‘always on’ and ready to work at a moment’s notice. However, UK SMBs are at risk of not taking full advantage of the potential productivity gains remote working provides:

• Nearly half (49%) of UK SMB employees who work remotely report having difficulty accessing their work files out of the office
• 46% of staff at companies with 50-99 employees run out of space for their data at least once per month

Flexible working is a valued benefit and a great way to attract and retain staff. SMBs can capitalise on their remote working offering by investing in on-site data storage solutions so staff will be able to achieve peak productivity regardless of whether they are in the office, at home, or travelling for business.

SMBs are great at backing up their data but are unsure of best-practice & regulation

UK SMBs have strong procedures for backing up their data, with backups happening on average 15.4 times per month, or approximately once every two days. Over a quarter (28%) of SMBs back up their data at least once per day. However, good data management is more than just backing up data promptly, and the research suggests that SMBs could be doing more to protect their data as they grow and consolidate their businesses:

• Over half (52%) of workers at companies with 10-249 employees reported not deleting items off their work computers more frequently than once per month
• Four in ten (44%) of UK SMB workers either aren’t sure of their company’s GDPR policy, or say it doesn’t have one
• 15% of UK SMB workers say their company has suffered from a data breach or cyberattack. Almost a quarter (23%) of employees reported their company does not have a plan of action in the event of a data breach or cyberattack, and 37% did not know if there was a plan in place.

SMBs can build on their existing backup processes by centralising their data in one place, and communicating to their employees the importance of following agreed procedures to ensure data is handled safely and effectively.

Alessandra de Paula, director of channel marketing EMEA at Seagate, said: “Britain has nurtured an impressive ecosystem of entrepreneurs and SMBs over the past few years. These businesses are ambitious, driven, and looking for rapid growth in markets often packed with incumbent big players. In this landscape it’s easy to appreciate why data management, data protection and regulatory compliance aren’t always top of the priority list.

“However, data is the new currency of the digital age; and SMBs that take control of their company data should find that it pays dividends in the increased productivity and efficiency their employees demonstrate when they are able to access the data they need, wherever they need it.”

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