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New Digital Universe Study Reveals Big Data Gap: Less Than 1% Of World's Data Is Analyzed; Less Than 20% Is Protected

Opportunities Abound for Companies Capable of Protecting and Extracting Value from an Expanding Universe of Data; By 2020, Emerging Markets Will Supplant the Developed World as the Main Producer of the World's Data.

HOPKINTON, Mass., Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

News Summary:

  • New IDC Digital Universe study, "Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East"(1) (sponsored by EMC) finds that only a tiny fraction of the world's Big Data potential is being realized, though the amount of useful data is expanding.
  • IDC projects that the digital universe will reach 40 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020, an amount that exceeds previous forecasts by 5 ZBs, resulting in a 50-fold growth from the beginning of 2010.
  • This year's study marks the first time IDC was able to capture where the information in the digital universe either originated or was first captured or consumed, revealing some dramatic shifts currently underway.
  • The amount of data that requires protection is growing faster than the digital universe itself, yet levels of protection are not keeping pace.
  • According to the study, 2.8 ZB of data will have been created and replicated in 2012.
  • Machine-generated data is a key driver in the growth of the world's data – which is projected to increase 15x by 2020.
  • By 2020, emerging markets will supplant the developed world as the main producer of the world's data.
  • The investment in spending on IT hardware, software, services, telecommunications and staff that could be considered the "infrastructure" of the digital universe will grow by 40% between 2012 and 2020.  Investment in targeted areas like storage management, security, Big Data, and cloud computing will grow considerably faster.
  • Join the #DigitalUniverse and #EMC conversations on Twitter.

Full Story:

EMC® Corporation (NYSE: EMC) today announced results of the EMC-sponsored IDC Digital 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. 

To view the multimedia version of this news release go to

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.

This year's study marks the first time IDC was able to capture where the information in the digital universe either originated or was first captured or consumed, revealing some dramatic shifts currently underway.  Now in its sixth year, the study – measuring and forecasting the amount of digital information created and copied annually – includes findings around the "Big Data Gap," which is the gap between the amount of data with hidden value and the amount of value that is actually being extracted; the level of data protection required versus what is being delivered; and the geographic implications of the world's data.

Study Highlights:

  • Rapid expansion of the digital universe: IDC projects that the digital universe will reach 40 ZB by 2020, an amount that exceeds previous forecasts.
    • The digital universe will double every two years between now and 2020.
    • There will be approximately 5,247 GB of data for every man, woman and child on earth in 2020.
    • A major factor behind the expansion of the digital universe is the growth of machine generated data, increasing from 11% of the digital universe in 2005 to over 40% in 2020.
  • 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.
  • A geographic role-reversal is around the corner: Although the digital universe was a developed-world phenomenon in the early days, that is about to change as the population of the emerging markets begins to cast a longer shadow.
    • While emerging markets accounted for 23% of the digital universe as recently as 2010, their share is already up to 36% in 2012.
    • By 2020, IDC predicts that 62% of the digital universe will be attributable to emerging markets.
    • The current global breakdown of the digital universe is: U.S. – 32%, Western Europe – 19%, China – 13%, India – 4%, rest of the world – 32%.
    • By 2020, China alone is expected to generate 22% of the world's data.

Other Key Findings:

  • As cloud computing plays an even more important role in the management of Big Data, the number of servers worldwide is expected to grow tenfold and the amount of information managed directly by enterprise data centers will grow by a factor of 14.
  • The type of data stored in the cloud will also experience a radical transformation over the next few years. By 2020, IDC predicts that 46.7% of data stored in the cloud will be related to entertainment – not enterprise data. Surveillance data, embedded and medical data, and information created by computers, phones and consumer electronics will make up the remainder.
  • The amount of information stored in the digital universe about individual users exceeds the amount of data that they themselves create.
  • Western Europe is currently investing the most to manage the digital universe, spending $2.49 USD per GB. The U.S. comes in second, investing $1.77 per GB, followed by China at $1.31 per GB and India at $0.87 per GB.
  • As the infrastructure of the digital universe becomes ever more connected, information won't reside within the region where it is consumed, nor will it need to. By 2020, IDC estimates that nearly 40% of data will be "touched" by cloud computing (private and public), meaning that somewhere between a byte's origination and consumption, it will be stored or processed in a cloud.

EMC Quote:

Jeremy Burton, Executive Vice President, Product Operations and Marketing, EMC Corporation

"As the volume and complexity of data barraging businesses from all angles increases, IT organizations have a choice: they can either succumb to information-overload paralysis, or they can take steps to harness the tremendous potential teeming within all of those data streams. This year's study underscores the massive opportunity that exists for businesses that not only identify the potential benefits of the digital universe, but recognize the importance of navigating that universe with the right balance of technology, data security practices and IT skills. At EMC, we're uniquely positioned to help customers manage, protect and unlock game-changing value from data that translates directly into competitive advantage."

Additional Resources:

About EMC

EMC Corporation is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service. Fundamental to this transformation is cloud computing. Through innovative products and services, EMC accelerates the journey to cloud computing, helping IT departments to store, manage, protect and analyze their most valuable asset – information – in a more agile, trusted and cost-efficient way. Additional information about EMC can be found at

(1) IDC Digital Universe Study, sponsored by EMC, December 2012

EMC is a registered trademark of EMC Corporation. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

SOURCE EMC Corporation

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