SMEs still struggling to manage company data effectively

New research into the data habits of UK SMEs suggests that many British companies are finding it hard to store and manage their company’s data effectively. The findings suggest many smaller organisations are still relying on USB drives as their primary data storage solution.

The research carried out by technology firm Seagate polled a representative sample of 1,006 UK SME 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about their employers’ data storage practices, preparedness for GDPR, cybersecurity policies, and how often they delete outdated files from their work computers and company servers.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 SMEs rely on USB drives for company data, while only 35% have company storage centralised with on-site servers. 29% use cloud-based storage solutions, while a sizable 23% of 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.

A change in work culture is shaping data storage requirements. Work habits in the UK are shifting, with over 14% of employees in the UK now working from home, according to figures from 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 this working arrangement is even more commonplace among smaller organisations.

Such remote working brings with it certain technology challenges. According to the survey, nearly half (49%) of UK SME employees who work remotely report having difficulty accessing their work files out of the office, while 46% of staff at companies with 50-99 employees run out of space for their data at least once per month.

Managing the data itself is also a concern for many. 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 SME workers either are not sure of their company’s GDPR policy, or say it does not have one

Alessandra de Paula, director of channel marketing EMEA at Seagate, said: “Britain has nurtured an impressive ecosystem of entrepreneurs and SMEs 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 are not always top of the priority list.

“However, data is the new currency of the digital age; and SMEs 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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