Digital data to grow tenfold by 2020

April 22, 2014 9:22 am

The emergence of wireless technologies, smart products and software-defined businesses are playing a central role in increasing the volume of the world’s data. This is according to a study conducted by EMC Corporation. The results of the seventh EMC Digital Universe study were announced on Tuesday, April 15. This year’s study was titled, “The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things,” with research and analysis done by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The study reveals that the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply tenfold between 2013 and 2020 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.

“The amount of information in the digital universe would fill a stack of iPad Air tablets reaching 2/3 of the way to the moon (157,674 miles/253,704 kilometres). By 2020, there will be 6.6 stacks,” claims the report.

The internet comprises of billions of everyday objects, each with its own unique identifiers and the ability to automatically record, report and receive data, in the same way a sensor in your shoe would track how fast you run. According to IDC the number of devices or things that can be connected to the internet is approaching 200 billion today, with seven per cent (or 14 billion) already connected to and communicating over the internet. The data from these connected devices represents two per cent of the world’s data today. IDC now forecasts that, by 2020, the number of connected devices will grow to 32 billion – representing ten per cent of the world’s data.

This will also influence the massive amounts of “useful data” – data that could be analysed – in the digital universe. By 2020, more than 35 per cent of all data could be considered useful data, thanks to the growth of data from the ‘Internet of Things’, but it will be up to businesses to put this data to use.

“This phenomenon will present radical new ways of interacting with customers, streamlining business cycles, and reducing operational costs, stimulating trillions of dollars in opportunities for businesses. Conversely, it presents significant challenges as businesses manage, store and protect the sheer volume and diversity of this data. For example, IDC estimates that 40 per cent of the data in the digital universe requires some level of protection, from heightened privacy measures to fully encrypted data. That said, only half of that data – just 20 per cent – is actually protected,” according to the study.

Another interesting find was that emerging markets will soon produce more data than anyone else. Mature markets such as Germany, Japan and the US currently produce 60 per cent of data in the digital realm, but the 2020 emerging markets are predicted to account for the majority.

“Simply put – companies of all types are shape shifting into software-defined enterprises right before our eyes. While the potential is massive, the implications are equally daunting. IT departments must press the restart button to find new ways to innovate around existing infrastructure while positioning themselves to dive into a future of third platform computing,” says Jeremy Burton, president of products and marketing at EMC Information Infrastructure