• August 30, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Pioneering the Consumer Data Storage/Protection Market

Today's private consumers display a number of similarities to businesses from the middle to late 1990s, when dealing with data protection and storage, according to the IDC report "Home Data Protection, 2005." While consumers say they are concerned with information loss due to catastrophe or theft, most are doing little or nothing about it, even as their catalogs of digital media assets grow at a rapid pace. This disparity is being addressed by individuals at present, but may create an opportunity for businesses to cater to the data protection needs of consumers, as well as other enterprises. "Consumer and business needs are the same, in that there has always been a lot of un- and underprotected commercial data, just as we're seeing now with consumers," says Robert Gray, vice president of worldwide storage systems research for IDC and author of the report. "This is an increasing issue, as more and more digital data is making it into the home." This data, contained on ever more capacious hard drives, MP3 players, TV recorders, cameras, and more, represents a huge amount of information; Gray mentions anecdotes of early adopters having one to two terabytes (1,000 times as large as a gigabyte) of storage in their homes. "Individuals doing this sort of data warehousing are often parents supporting the music and video habits of one or more children, or have somebody in the household doing something like video editing as a hobby." Despite the expansion of personal data storage, consumers' information is extremely vulnerable to a number of threats, ranging from hackers to floods. "Businesses have their data copied to multiple locations, safe behind firewalls, so their main concern is generally failure of the computer system or storage device itself. Consumers are more worried about hackers and viruses," Gray says. "Many people don't take even basic precautions with their data resources, and even when they say they're taking action to protect their data, the efforts are way below what they should be," he says, noting that many back up their files less than once a month. "There's definitely a disconnect." The issue, as Gray sees it, is the usual combination of price point and simplicity that hinders adoption of any technology. "Consumers need protection technologies built into their digital equipment, and they have to be fairly automatic in how they function. But the various products and services currently available are geared for the enterprise, and thus are not only more complex than an individual wants or needs, but cost more than they want to pay." The IDC report suggests there are a number of opportunities for vendors to lead the way in personal data protection. "Businesses started out like consumers, with large amounts of mostly unprotected data. It took a long time for them to reach a point that could be called safe," Gray says. "The home data protection market is in the pioneering/early-adopter phases. It is still early for broadly successful products for consumers' emerging and unique requirements." For more information on the report, visit Related articles:
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