Information Is The Lifeblood Of Business, So Why Don’t SMEs Protect It?

Data Backup

Information forms the lifeblood of a business. Without information, the other aspects needed to make a business tick; like sales, customers or profit, stall permanently. So naturally, accessibility to that information is of paramount importance to any business.

Because of this drastic importance, one would expect the protection and retrieval of this information to be available at will and kept under lock and key. However, 60 per cent of respondents surveyed at this year’s IP Expo said they had lost access to their company’s IT system following an unexpected incident.

In 40 per cent of these cases, the unplanned downtime lasted for six hours or more, grinding the entire business to a halt for an entire working day. Just think of all the tasks your business carries out using IT in just one day. Imagine not being able to access email, check customer documents or check essential data.

And the consequences do not only cause inconvenience on the day; the knock on effects can often be much further reaching. Unhappy customers, disgruntled suppliers and a reputation for unreliability are all common problems.

Losing access to your data not only hurts your reputation – it hurts your pocket. Studies have shown that that the loss of access to data and electronic communication systems costs SMEs on average around £7,500 a day in lost business and productivity.

An unplanned downtime can stem from something as innocent as a workman cutting through a power cable or as sinister as a malicious cyber attack; but they all have one factor in common: the element of surprise.

The best business heads not only prepare for the things that are going to happen; but the things that could happen. “I didn’t know it was going to happen,” is not much of an excuse when faced with an angry customer who has lost their data; or an office full of staff who cannot perform their duties.

If your business’s information is adequately backed-up, the chances are that your IT systems will be back up and running by the end of the day. But if not, the consequences can be disastrous. In a worst case scenario the lost data can never be recovered, and neither can the business.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 90 per cent of SMEs that lose data following a major incident are forced to shut within two years. Yet research shows that less than half of SMEs bother to back up data every week, and a mere 23 per cent back up daily.

Taking the odd risk is often part and parcel of being in business – but risking the safety of your information is equivalent to cutting off its oxygen supply. Huge corporations often have the money, expertise and resources to escape from a tricky IT gaffe; but SMEs quite often do not.

This vulnerability makes investing in off-site data back up even more vital for SMEs, and the frequency at which these downtimes are occurring should act as a stark wake-up call. It only takes a fluke incident to disable access to your IT systems; and as the survey results show; it only takes one major incident to cripple your business forever.

Backing up important data on external hard drives should be a natural practice, but if you lack the time and resources to undertake such a task from scratch, it may be worth investing in a third party provider to store your data securely in an offsite location.

Colocation data centres are specifically designed to keep your information safe and secure in the event of a disaster – so whether it is floods or fire, earthquakes or early morning road works – your business’s information is always to hand.

Investing in your assets is just common sense, so do your business justice by investing in your information in the same way you would invest in a new computer or member of staff. Your information looks after the viability of your business, so be sure to return the favour and look after it just as well.

Roger Keenan joined City Lifeline as managing director in 2005. Prior to City Lifeline, Roger was general manager at Trafficmaster, during which time he progressed to managing director for Germany and then CEO of Trafficmaster in Detroit. Roger belongs to a number of industry and trade associations, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing (MCIM), the Institute of Engineering and Technology (MIET) and is a Chartered Electrical Engineer (CEng). Roger studied at the University of Wales where he was awarded a BSc Hons degree in Electronic Engineering. He then went on to study for an MBA at Cranfield School of Management. Roger is an experienced public speaker and in his spare time has a keen interest in classic cars.