The global data supply reached 2.8 zettabytes (2.8 trillion gigabytes) in 2012, according to a report published by the International Data Corporation in December. The report, entitled 'The Digital Universe in 2020', also predicts that the total amount of data in the world will have reached 40 zettabytes by 2020 - this equates to roughly 5.2 terabytes of data for every person expected to be alive at that time. In other words, from now until the end of the decade, 'the digital universe' is expected to double in size every two years.
However, the report doesn't just focus on the total amount of data produced globally, it also examines how this data is used. The authors report that just 0.5% of data is currently analyzed. They estimate that up to a quarter of all data which exists today could "contain information that might be valuable if analyzed" and this figure is expected to rise to a third by 2020. Much of the current difficulty in analyzing the data available stems from a lack of 'tagging', say the report's authors. Just 3% of potentially useful data is currently tagged in such a way that it can readily be analyzed.
Finally, the report also throws some light on growing data security issues. It says that only half of the data in need of protection is currently protected today. And, the proportion of data in the digital universe that requires protection is currently growing faster than the digital universe itself, from less than a third in 2010 to more than 40% in 2020.
- Andrew Purcell