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Digital universe to expand 10x by 2020

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EMC’s Digital Universe study has revealed that the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020, from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.

EMC has announced results of the seventh EMC Digital Universe study, a study that quantifies and forecasts the amount of data produced annually.

This year’s study entitled ‚ÄòThe Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things’, with research and analysis by IDC, reveals how the emergence of wireless technologies, smart products and software-defined businesses are playing a central role in catapulting the volume of the world’s data. Due, in part, to this Internet of Things, the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.

The Internet of Things comprises billions of everyday objects that are equipped with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically record, report and receive data – a sensor in your shoe tracking how fast you run or a bridge tracking traffic patterns.

According to IDC, the number of devices or things that can be connected to the Internet is approaching 200 billion today, with 7% (or 14 billion) already connected to and communicating over the Internet. The data from these connected devices represents 2% of the world’s data today. IDC now forecasts that by 2020 the number of connected devices will grow to 32 billion – representing 10% of the world’s data.

The Internet of Things will also influence the massive amounts of ‚Äòuseful data’ – data that could be analysed – in the digital universe. In 2013, only 22% of the information in the digital universe was considered useful data, but less than 5% of the useful data was actually analysed – leaving a massive amount of data lost as dark matter in the digital universe. By 2020, more than 35% 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 opportunity for businesses. Conversely, it presents significant challenges as businesses look to manage, store and protect the sheer volume and diversity of this data. For example, IDC estimates that 40% of the data in the digital universe require some level of protection, from heightened privacy measures to fully-encrypted data. That said, only half of that data – just 20% – is actually protected.

Other key findings:

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