Accounting Small Business Advice

Four million UK businesses at risk of losing all company data

7 Dec 2018

Almost a million UK businesses do not back up their company data, according to new research.

Worryingly, a further 2.8 million firms risk losing valuable information by storing electronic copies in the same location as the original data, say Beaming.

Our accountants in London specialise in working with small businesses to help them understand the data their business collects and use it in the most effective way to ensure the business performs at the optimum level.

Get in touch with our highly qualified small business consultant today to speak about how our team can get the best from out of your business.

Beaming’s survey of business leaders, undertaken by the research company Opinium, shows that while most (83%) of UK firms backup their data, half save it to servers or storage devices in the same premises.

A substantial 44% of small businesses, 42% of medium-sized firms and 34% of large organisations currently store backed-up information in the same location as it is generated, leaving them vulnerable to data loss through theft, fire or malware attack.

On top of that, 17% of businesses keep no data back-ups whatsoever and store information only on individual computers and employee devices.

Sole traders and micro companies employing less than 10 people are most likely to be guilty of not backing up their data.

Only a third (35%) of UK businesses currently store their back-up data to outside of the office. Of that, 15% of sole traders and 13% of micro businesses backup their data to cloud storage services from companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Almost a quarter (24%) of small and 18% of medium-sized businesses require employees to physically take backups of data home on portable storage devices.

Meanwhile, 33%of large and 32% of medium-sized companies copy data to their own servers located in dedicated data centres or co-location facilities.

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Why is data so important to a small business?

In addition to last year, 2018 will mark an even more meaningful shift when it comes to utilising data in business. Data will drive business direction rather than simply reflecting its performance.

Most organisations today understand that if they capture all the data that streams into their businesses, they can apply analytics and garner significant value from it. The benefits that big data analytics are already bringing to businesses are speed and efficiency.

Whereas a few years ago, a business would have gathered information, run analytics and unearthed information that could be used for future decisions, today that business can identify insights for immediate decisions.

We are already witnessing organisations with the ability to respond to customers with personalised, contextually relevant offers and communications in real time, using insights not only based on their in-the-moment activity, but also past behaviours.

Look no further than the infamous Cambridge Analytica, who used data from five million Facebook accounts to pre-qualify leads and specifically target individuals who matched the profile of supporters for both the Trump campaign in 2016 and the pro-Brexit cohort of the UK.

Ultimately, their data and the way in which it was used was the key decider in two of the biggest political decisions of the modern day. Albeit an ethically questionable action, this is still an example of data’s power, particularly when its potential value is harnessed by the business who access it.

Other companies are reinventing and reimagining customer journeys to increase client satisfaction, sales and service productivity, while automating processes to reduce operational costs and drive standardisation.

They are identifying sub-optimal channel/cross-channel processes that lead to complaints/attrition and increased costs, while fixing them quickly.

This is driving enhanced loyalty and customer engagement via improved focus on managing and measuring customer satisfaction and retention.

The ’30-mile’ recommendation

Less than a fifth (18%) of businesses currently backup their data to facilities located at least 30 miles from their own premises, the minimum distance recommended by business continuity experts to limit the IT impact of natural disasters.

Most of the companies adhering the ‘30 mile rule’ are using cloud-based storage services and do not know precisely where their data is held.

Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, says that most businesses – particularly at the smaller end – don’t do enough to safeguard their information,

The introduction of GDPR has highlighted the need for secure and resilient data storage in order to mitigate the risk of significant data loss.

We’d encourage businesses to think seriously about private cloud or co-location services when it comes to storing highly sensitive data or mission critical applications. These should only be accessed through the most secure forms of connectivity.