Unstructured Data is the “Dark Matter” of Information Explosion, HP survey finds

New research announced by HP on Nov 6th shows that […]

November 7, 2008

New research announced by HP on Nov 6th shows that whilst European CIOs and Business Unit Heads are benefiting from better management of their information, they are tackling only part of the problem. This significantly underestimates the amount of unstructured data generated which puts their business at risk. Unstructured data includes such things as emails, documents and files from third parties which lie outside of internal systems.

The research, which included a survey of 1,020 CIOs and Business Unit Heads across Europe, found that on average, companies believe that only 25 percent of their data is currently unstructured. In contrast, research by leading industry analysts indicates that more than 70 percent of information is actually unstructured data.

Just as scientists studying the universe found there was a significant missing factor in their model – the “dark matter”, this delta between the two research findings appears to be the information “dark matter” that can pose a serious risk for businesses.

“Companies will fail to fully understand their business information by ignoring their unstructured data,” said Erik Moller, EMEA marketing director, Information Management, Software, HP. “Providing the right information at the right time is a critical success factor for compliance, risk management and competitive strength. Organisations need a proactive information governance strategy to derive better business insights for improved decision making, collaboration, productivity and customer service. Such insights are the best way for CIOs to prove the value of information management to the board and to secure ongoing investment and support.”

Overall, the research results show organisations are embracing information management and support HP’s view that information management is directly linked to better business outcomes.

The top benefits of better information management identified by organisations include:
– improved collaboration and less duplication, seen by 84 percent of respondents
– improved customer service, seen by 83 percent of respondents
– better segmentation of data for business use seen by 81 percent of respondents

Brunel University in west London is a good example of an organisation that is managing information much more effectively by putting the right policies, processes and technology in place. In 2007 Brunel University found its information management systems were struggling to cope with the increase in information generated across the university. Concerned that this would affect its ability to respond to enquiries accurately and meet compliance standards, Brunel chose to implement the HP Integrated Archive Platform.

”Our information management goals were to find a platform that could cope with our rising data volumes and give us reliability of search and storage as well as much quicker turnaround of official search requests,” said Iain Liddell, policy development manager, Brunel University. “By using the HP Integrated Archive Platform we have been able to analyse our business and academic research quickly, reduce the time needed to search and track important data such as email correspondence and increase the accuracy of the information we gather in response to enquiries or disputes.”

Key Belgium Research Findings:

1. 53 interviews were completed in Belgium for this part of the survey 25 with CIOs and 28 with business unit heads. Overall 1,020 interviews were completed, 501 with CIOs and the rest with business unit heads.

2. The core benefits of better managing information that flows around a company are perceived to be improved customer service or experience, mentioned by 76 percent of respondents in Belgium compared with 61 percent overall and improved collaboration between departments and less duplication of work, mentioned by 62 percent of companies in Belgium and 62 per cent of all companies. Other commonly cited benefits of better managed information flows across the business in Belgium include better segmentation of data for business use and improved business intelligence for planning. Typically Belgian respondents were more likely to see a greater number of benefits than the rest of the cohort.

3. What seems abundantly clear across the board and also in Belgium is where there is a perceived benefit of improved management of information flows across the company, those benefits are certainly seen in the business. 81 per cent of those companies in the whole survey across all countries who felt that better segmentation of data for business use is a potential business benefit have indeed seen that benefit in their organisation.

4. In Belgium, the most commonly seen business benefits of improved information management include reduced costs associated with finding information for litigation and e-discovery – mentioned by 82 percent of those perceiving it as a benefit to have actually been seen in the company – and improved customer service or experience, cited by fully 80 percent of those who consider it a potential benefit. In all cases in Belgium well over half of those perceiving a potential benefit have indeed seen that benefit in their organisation.

5. Compared to 1998 and using a scale of 10 much better down to 1 much worse, companies in Belgium rate themselves on average at a level of 7.3 compared to 7.4 for all of the companies under study – so there is no doubt that companies feel a lot better able to manage data now compared to 10 years ago but there is still room for improvement.

6. The top challenge to managing information in the organisation in Belgium is most commonly getting employees to use the right applications to their full potential, cited by fully 76 per cent of all companies in the country and 68 per cent across the entire survey. 51 per cent of respondents in Belgium (compared with 40 per cent overall) mentioned that getting board level investment for new tools and applications is an issue as well.

7. On average Belgian employees use only 22.1 per cent of the tools and technologies available to them really effectively in their daily lives compared to 21.3 per cent for all companies across the survey.

8. In Belgium almost one in five companies report that between 5 and 10 per cent of data is unstructured at present and a further 43 per cent say that over 31 per cent of data is currently unstructured. In three years time however, one third of Belgian companies feel that less than 10 per cent of data will be unstructured and only one quarter think that over 31 per cent will be of that nature. In general, Belgian companies believe that on average 28.2 per cent of data is unstructured compared with 24.9 for all companies surveyed. In three years time, 20.9 per cent of data in Belgian companies will remain unstructured compared with 19.0 per cent of all companies.

About the survey
”HP Information Explosion Study,” conducted by Coleman Parkes Research, August 2008
Coleman Parkes Research conducted 1,020 structured telephone interviews with CIOs and Business Unit Heads in large organisations (counted as +$1 billion turnover or +250 employees) in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Norway and Sweden. Fieldwork was carefully controlled to ensure the required coverage within country and vertical sector. All fieldwork was undertaken in late July and August 2008.
Average interview length was approximately 12 to15 minutes. All interviews were carried out by fully trained interviewers working to IQCS guidelines and the entire project was conducted in strict accordance with the MRS Code of Conduct.

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