You’re in the desert, cruising in your trusty four-wheel drive when smoke starts to billow from the bonnet. You keep going, hoping for the best. A few minutes later the engine doesn’t sound too good either… The good news is, you’re an expert and you know how to fix it. The bad news? You don’t have your toolbox.

Many organisations, while not exactly roaming around the desert, are putting themselves in similarly vulnerable positions. They are crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. This is especially the case when looking at data protection and management strategies, or lack thereof, across the enterprise.

For any organisation, data – that is, its engine – is constantly working and under attack from the external environment. Yet many enterprises are not leveraging available tools, such as disaster recovery (DR) planning, to protect themselves.

The current state of play

Data is the core asset of any company; it’s what keeps the business running. Any downtime quickly translates into lost revenue, lowered employee productivity and corporate brand damage. Despite acknowledging the value of data, more than 60% of companies do not have a fully documented DR plan in place.

This demonstrates the trend, whereby businesses are failing to recognise the importance of having a trusty toolbox on hand to protect themselves in today’s highly complex and challenging IT landscape. Often, not knowing where to start, data management ends up at the bottom of the list.

Heres what to consider for your business:

  1. Bring people along for the ride

    The key to effectively protecting data from loss or breach is to encourage deep collaboration across stakeholders: from company leadership, to line-of-business managers, to IT personnel. While no single person will ever have the power to protect data single-handedly, forming internal alliances is the first and most important element of forming a data protection and management toolbox.

  2. Conduct a risk analysis

    Once you have your alliance, the first stage in data protection and planning is to conduct a risk analysis. First, understand the potential costs and lost revenue that can result from disruptions to the business. Next, assign a likelihood of occurrence to the risks that have the biggest impact. Finally, define your plan (and cost required) to mitigate these risks.

  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

    Spreading your resources across many different baskets is vital for business continuity. CIOs need to ensure that their company’s vital resources are not concentrated in one or two physical locations. Instead, you should look to take advantage of public cloud services, for an optimal balance of cost and flexibility.

    Many global companies entrust their data to established providers; however we cannot forget the importance of evaluating potential cloud partners with the same rigour and discipline as we would any third-party service provider.

  4. There’s no such thing as luck when it comes to DR

    Despite data being critical to most business operations, tools like DR rarely appear high on the list of business or budgetary priorities, unless mandated by regulators or government. Instead, many companies prefer to rely on hope; without going through the rigour and training required to fully manage and protect their data.

With major disruptions like hacks and outages striking organisations on a more regular basis, more must be done to mitigate the risk associated with data. It is therefore critical for businesses to implement data management and protection protocols; to protect their data as they would any other core asset.

The door to success will be opened by organisations who work to create alliances, understand their data risks as well as the tools they have at their disposal, and ensure the diversification of their data assets is well calculated and controlled. The best data management and protection toolboxes will contain everything a business needs to innovate and meet continuity challenges.