IDC: 59 zettabytes of data will be created, consumed this year

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More than 59 zettabytes (ZB) of data will be created, captured, copied, and consumed in the world this year, according to a new update to the Global Datasphere from analyst firm IDC.

IDC said the Covid-19 pandemic is contributing to this figure by causing an abrupt increase in the number of work from home employees and changing the mix of data being created to a richer set of data that includes video communication and a tangible increase in the consumption of downloaded and streamed video.

IDC’s Global DataSphere measures the amount of data created and consumed in the world each year. The ratio of unique data (created and captured) to replicated data (copied and consumed) is roughly 1:9, but the trend is a slow migration toward less unique and more replicated data. By 2024, IDC expects this ratio to be 1:10.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has hindered the creation of new unique data, the increased consumption of replicated data has fueled the continued growth of the Global DataSphere. This growth is forecast to continue through 2024 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26%.

“Growth of the Global DataSphere is driven more by the data that we consume and analyze than what we create,” said David Reinsel, senior vice president for IDC’s Global DataSphere. “Obviously, data must be created before it can be analyzed, but the recursion rate of data – the rate at which the same data is processed again – continues to grow exponentially driving the ‘unique’ DataSphere down to 10% of the total DataSphere.”

Key findings from the forecast include the following:

  • The amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years, and the world will create more than three times the data over the next five years than it did in the previous five.
  • Productivity/embedded data is the fastest-growing category of data creation with a 40.3% CAGR for the 2019–2024 forecast period. By 2024, entertainment data will be 40% of the Global DataSphere and productivity/embedded data will be 29%, stalled somewhat by Covid-19 dynamics.
  • Sensors are being embedded into anything and everything and throwing off data that can help contextualize data. This data along with increasing amounts of metadata (data about data) is growing aggressively and soon will surpass all other data types.
  • The consumer share of the Global DataSphere will hover around 50% and decline roughly 4% over the next five years, slowly ceding share to the enterprise DataSphere.
  • Video surveillance data and privacy and regulatory initiatives/mandates continue to intersect with one another. Finding the correct balance between security, personalization, efficiency, and individual rights to privacy will be one of the great tensions of this decade.

“We live in an increasingly video-enabled and video-assisted world, and consume an increasing amount of entertainment video each year – these are key factors driving the growth of the Global DataSphere,” said John Rydning, IDC’s Global DataSphere research vice president.

“At the same time, we are steadily making more productive use of the video data we capture, which is contributing to the growth of productivity data in the DataSphere.”

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