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The amount of data enterprises are collecting and managing is exploding, and with that comes problems protecting it, according to a Thursday report from Dell EMC.

The average amount of data managed rose from 1.45 PB in 2015 to 9.70 PB in 2018, the survey of 2,200 IT decision makers worldwide found. IT leaders increasingly understand the value of that data, the report found: 92% said they see the potential value of their information, and 36% said they have already monetized it.

Protecting enterprise data is a major challenge, due in part to the sheer volume of data collected and its importance to business operations, the report found. More than three-quarters (76%) of IT leaders said they experienced some type of data disruption within a one-year period, and 27% said they were unable to recover data using their existing data protection solution--almost double the amount who said so in 2016 (14%).

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Some 76% of companies are also using at least two data protection vendors, which made them 35% more likely to experience a disruption, according to the report. The most common types of disruption experienced by enterprises with at least two vendors were unplanned systems downtime (43%), ransomware attacks (32%), and data loss (29%).

Data loss is the most expensive type of disruption experienced, the report found. Enterprises that experienced downtime saw an average of 20 hours of downtime in the past year, costing $526,845. But those who lost data lost 2.13 TB on average, costing nearly $1 million, the report found. These disruptions had business impacts on customer trust, brand equity, and employee productivity.

Data protection challenges

Virtually all IT leaders (95%) surveyed said they face at least one challenge protecting corporate data, the report found. Here are the top three challenges globally:

1. Complexity of configuring and operating data protection software/hardware / Ballooning costs of storing and managing backup copies due to rapid data growth (46%, tied for first)

2. Lack of data protection solutions for emerging technologies (45%)

3. Ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR (41%)

The rise of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) present new challenges, due to their rapid growth and the amount of data they collect, the report noted. Only 16% of IT leaders said they believe their current data protection solutions will be able to meet all future business challenges.

"Emerging technologies such as AI and IoT are frequently the focus of an organization's digital transformation, but the data those technologies generate is absolutely key in their transformation journey," Beth Phalen, president and general manager of the Dell EMC Data Protection Division, said in a press release. "The nearly 50 percent growth of data protection adopters and fact that the majority of business now recognize the value of data proves that we are on a positive path to protecting and harnessing the data that drives human progress."

To learn more about how to protect your business's data, check out this TechRepublic article on policies employees must understand.

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Image: iStockphoto/Ronnie Chua