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Symantec Corp recently announced the findings of its 2012 Information Retention and eDiscovery Survey which examined how enterprises manage their ever-growing volumes of electronically stored information (ESI) and prepare for the eventuality of an eDiscovery request. The study found the percentage of organizations without a formal information retention plan dropped by half from the 2011 survey. However, even with this improvement, organizations struggle with implementing their information retention plans as only a third of organizations report their plan is fully operational.

Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of organizations say they have a formal retention plan, yet only 34 percent report those plans are fully operational. The perceived cost of implementing their plans is reported to be the most common reason why organizations are lagging in plan implementation. The survey found that only 7 percent of organizations don’t have any plans in place, a 50 percent drop from 14 percent of organizations reported in the 2011 survey.

Even more concerning is that while they received on average 17 requests for electronically stored information, these requests failed 31 percent of the time. This is significantly higher than the 20 percent of failures reported in 2011. Each time a failure occurs, the organization is at risk. Forty-three percent reported the inability to make decisions in a timely fashion as the biggest consequence of these failures. Other consequences reported include damage to reputation, compromised legal position, fines, raised profile as a litigation target and court sanctions.

“The survey highlights that, although there is a reduction in the number of organizations without an information retention plan, organizations haven’t fully funded and implemented their plans,” said Trevor Daughney, Director, Information Intelligence Group, Symantec. “With the number of ESI requests and failures to obtain requested information increasing, organizations face risks that are much more costly in the long run than implementing their plans.”

There is still a substantial gap between beliefs and practices in retention policies, which has not significantly changed year over year. Eighty-one percent of respondents believe that a proper information retention plan allows organizations to delete information on an ongoing basis. However, 42percent of backups are indefinitely retained by organizations. This is virtually unchanged from the 2011 results. And, information that is deleted by organizations is often deleted without considering established retention policies.

The most reported negative consequences resulting from preserving more electronically stored information  than necessary include: Increased costs associated with collection, analysis and review (54 percent); increased time spent to collect, analyze and review ESI (47 percent); increased risk that sensitive information may be disclosed (44 percent); compromised position in potential or actual litigation (27 percent); and information unintentionally made available for potential future litigation (28 percent).

The survey also reports that organizations are keeping information longer than is needed, and keeping the data within backups rather than archives for legal holds, which reduces efficiencies when performing an ESI request. The survey reveals that 38 percent of data that organizations backup is not needed or shouldn’t be kept in backup. In fact, respondents say that a third of backup data (34 percent) shouldn’t be kept and is unnecessary due to litigation risk.

More than half of organizations keep that data indefinitely: 56 percent of organizations reported that their backup storage is used for infinite retention that is dedicated to legal hold. This has grown from 43 percent in 2011 and continues to get worse. Further, 85 percent of organizations routinely perform legal holds in their backups, which are not designed to be accessed in the same way as an archive.

As expected, data privacy laws and regulations have significant impact on organizations with 53 percent reporting that laws and/or regulations impact archiving and eDiscovery initiatives. However, there are many reasons respondents report collecting electronically stored information including: Litigation (60 percent); internal investigations (59 percent); internal compliance initiatives (58 percent); compliance with international regulations and laws (57 percent); compliance with local regulations and laws (55 percent); governmental inquiries or investigations (52 percent); and public information requests (46 percent).

Symantec protects the world’s information, and is a global leader in security, backup and availability solutions. Our innovative products and services protect people and information in any environment – from the smallest mobile device, to the enterprise data center, to cloud-based systems. Our world-renowned expertise in protecting data, identities and interactions gives our customers confidence in a connected world.

Kenneth Omeruo
Omeruo Ndukaku Kenneth is an Innovation Management expert,the CEO of Emerging Media,a new media company.He is a member of ISPIM - International Society for Professional Innovation Management and the US-Africa chamber of Commerce.He is the Founder of TechTrends Nigeria Blog,Nigeria Innovation Summit and the African Innovation Academy.Kenneth is a highly sought-after Internet Marketing Consultant who has through his seminars, articles, training and consulting, helped many organizations, Individuals, Businesses maximize the Internet for business purposes.Kenneth has also being featured as a guest on the TV show TODAY ON STV Nigeria and on Bloomberg Africa TV.He is the author of the best –selling Internet Book: How To Create Unlimited Internet Wealth. He is a syndicated columnist with the following Newspapers in Nigeria: Daily Independent, Financial Standard, PUNCH, BusinessDay, and Sun.Kenneth organises the EduNet Conference for Universities in Nigeria. Kenneth is a member of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria( ISPON ) Roundtable For Capacity Development in Nigeria,member pre-selection committee for Nigeria at the UN World Summit Awards,a Panelist for Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria(YouWIN)-a Federal government initiative created by the ministry of finance,supported by ministries of Communications Technology,Youth Development,Worldbank and DFID. A 2013 Judge at the Google Cloud Developers Challenge for Sub Saharan Africa.He has been a contributing editor of Nigeria Communications Week,Africa Telecom and IT Business Magazine,ICT Today magazine,M2 magazine.Kenneth has been invited to the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum, Oracle Open World Conference USA, Oracle Cloud World Dubai, and GITEX Dubai. He now lives in New York with his family and presently working on an Open Innovation project for Nigeria. You can contact Kenneth through email: (kenneth (at)techtrendsng.com) Facebook:www.facebook.com/Kenneth.omeruo On Twitter:www.twitter.com/kennethomeruo Skpe:Kenneth.Omeruo

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