Global data set for explosion as ‘internet of things’ takes off

But survey warns businesses will need to recognise opportunity to use new resource

The amount of data being produced will grow 10 times over the next six years, reaching 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020, according to a new survey.

That increase in global data will be fuelled in part by a rise in the number of sensor-enabled devices, smart products and wireless technologies, which will account for 10 per cent of the world’s data.

The figures were revealed as part of EMC’s Digital Universe study, which also estimated that data that was “touched” by cloud services would double to 40 per cent by 2020.

Almost 200 billion devices could be connected to the internet today, data from IDC has shown, with about 14 billion already communicating through the internet. That figure is expected to reach 32 billion within six years as the “internet of things” increases, and could influence the amount of data classed as “useful”, ie data that can be analysed. At present, less than a quarter of data produced is classed as useful, with only 5 per cent of that actually analysed. That useful data figure could increase to 35 per cent by 2020, although companies will still need to recognise the opportunity it presents.


"This year's Digital Universe survey shows that businesses are potentially underestimating the vastness of new data creation, and the means to store and analyse it," said EMC director Jason Ward.

“Furthermore, this raises important questions regarding cybersecurity—how will companies protect sensitive information from hackers? The scale of modern data creation has to some degree rendered traditional, passive measures of security obsolete. However, with the right data management solutions and new, intelligence-driven security measures in place, businesses stand to benefit from a wealth of new resources and information.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist