Digital universe to multiply tenfold by 2020 – research

10 Apr 2014

The size of the ‘digital universe’ – all the data that makes up the internet – will increase by a multiple of 10 by 2020, what with the growth of the internet of things, new research from EMC and International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests.

The term ‘internet of things’ has entered common lexicon as more and more household items and the objects we interact with on a daily basis will all be interconnected and this growth will lead to never-before seen data usage.

From the EMC and IDC findings, the internet’s current data capacity stands at about 4.4trn gigabytes but by 2020 will rise to 44trn gigabytes as more devices become interconnected.

As it stands, there are reportedly 200bn devices on the planet connected to the internet, with 7pc (or 14bn) already connected to and communicating over the internet.

The data from these connected devices represents 2pc of the world’s data today and now, the IDC forecasts that by 2020, the number of connected devices will grow to 32bn – representing 10pc of the world’s data.

The question of whether the usefulness of most of these trillions of gigabytes of data will grow in the coming years has also been investigated and the findings reveal that while in 2013 only 22pc of the information in the digital universe was considered useful data, by 2020 this will have risen to 35pc.

Creating data faster than storage

Perhaps one of the biggest worries to come from the report entitled The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things, is that we are creating data at such a rate that available storage is shrinking.

In 2013, the available storage capacity could hold just 33pc of the digital universe but by 2020, it will be able to store less than 15pc.

However, the move towards content streaming, as opposed to downloading, could offset any future storage worries.

Speaking about the findings, Jeremy Burton, president of products and marketing of EMC information infrastructure, said, “As more and more businesses capitalise on the social and mobile phenomenon, the enormity and potential of the digital universe grows, and businesses are presented with greater opportunities to analyse new streams of data and gain more value from the data they already have.”

World internet image via Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic