August 21, 2014

New Digital Universe Study Reveals Big Data Gap: Less Than 1% of World’s Data Analyzed; Less Than 20% Protected; 40 ZB Expected by 2020

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The 2012 edition of the Digital Universe study was released today by EMC.

From EMC:

EMC Corporation today announced results of the EMC-sponsored IDCDigital Universe study, “Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East”— which found that despite the unprecedented expansion of the digital universe due to the massive amounts of data being generated daily by people and machines, IDC estimates that only 0.5% of the world’s data is being analyzed.

The proliferation of devices such as PCs and smartphones worldwide, increased Internet access within emerging markets and the boost in data from machines such as surveillance cameras or smart meters has contributed to the doubling of the digital universe within the past two years alone — to a mammoth 2.8 ZB. IDC projects that the digital universe will reach 40 ZB by 2020, an amount that exceeds previous forecasts by 14%.

In terms of sheer volume, 40 ZB of data is equivalent to:

  • There are 700,500,000,000,000,000,000 grains of sand on all the beaches on earth (or seven quintillion five quadrillion). That means 40 ZB is equal to 57 times the amount of all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth.
  • If we could save all 40 ZB onto today’s Blue-ray discs, the weight of those discs (without any sleeves or cases) would be the same as 424 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
  • In 2020, 40 ZB will be 5,247 GB per person worldwide.

More Highlights

  • Large quantities of useful data are getting lost: The promise of Big Data lies within the extraction of value from large, untapped pools of data. However, the majority of new data is largely untagged file-based and unstructured data, which means little is known about it.
    • In 2012, 23% (643 exabytes) of the digital universe would be useful for Big Data if tagged and analyzed. However, currently only 3% of the potentially useful data is tagged, and even less is analyzed.
    • The amount of useful data is expanding with the growth of the digital universe. By 2020, 33% of the digital universe (13,000+ exabytes) will have Big Data value if it is tagged and analyzed.
  • Much of the digital universe is unprotected:The amount of data that requires protection is growing faster than the digital universe itself.
    • Less than a third of the digital universe required data protection in 2010, but that proportion is expected to exceed 40% by 2020.
    • In 2012, while about 35% of the information in the digital universe required some type of data protection, less than 20% of the digital universe actually has these protections.
    • The level of protection varies by region, with much less protection in the emerging markets.
    • Challenges such as advanced threats, the security skills gap and lack of adherence to security best practices among consumers and corporations will continue to compound the issue.

Read the Complete Summary/News Release

View the Interactive Report


idc emc digitaluniverse consumer 500px New Digital Universe Study Reveals Big Data Gap: Less Than 1% of World’s Data Analyzed; Less Than 20% Protected; 40 ZB Expected by 2020

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.