The Wonders of the (Digital) Universe
IDC and EMC ‘s joint annual Digital Universe study – a global census of the information created, transmitted and stored each year, complete with predictions until 2020 – sheds some interesting light on the importance of data in the modern business environment.
We recently announced a regional breakdown of the data which is particularly interesting; it revealed that Western Europe is one of the most data-dense areas in the world. Between last year and 2020, the amount of data in Western Europe will grow tenfold, not least because some 65% of the population is now online, with half of those accessing the internet from more than one device. It is not, therefore, surprising that European corporations are some of the highest spending when it comes to IT infrastructure and information management. However, the rapid growth of data that organisations create, capture and store means that how that money is spent is also changing very quickly.
Indeed, another body of research from EMC recently revealed that, across the EMEA region, some 63% of organisations intend to make significant changes in their IT functions in just the next 12 months. That figure rises to three quarters of companies in the UK, where many organisations have significant cash piles awaiting investment. These changes in IT priorities are being driven, in the main, by the emergence of cloud infrastructures (which are highly scalable, and can deal with unpredictable growth in storage and processing requirements) and big data analytics (which can generate value from information which enterprises are, quite often, required to store).
Intriguingly, much of the growth in data can be accounted for by the growth of data about other data – analysis of unstructured datasets requires cataloguing and tagging, and this is often an automated process,- which calls for yet more data, in the shape of code and algorithms. Many businesses are beginning to wake up to the possibilities that analysis of large quantities of stored data can offer, but IT professionals within the business have a continuing responsibility to evangelise its importance to the rest of the management team. There is evidence that, in the UK at least, this is starting to happen, with a third of businesses either considering or having already implemented big data solutions. The truth is that the world has changed, and no business leader or IT professional can afford to be awestruck by the huge numbers involved in dealing with the proliferation of data in the modern business.
Commenting on the research, Chris Roche, Regional Director, UK and Ireland for EMC Greenplum said “With the Digital Universe in Western Europe expected to grow tenfold between 2012 and 2020, at 30% a year, the volume and complexity of data barraging businesses from all angles will become both an opportunity and a challenge. Organisations 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. With projections that 45% of Western Europe’s digital universe in 2020 will be useful if tagged and analysed, this study highlights a massive opportunity for businesses that not only identify the potential benefits of this data, but recognise the importance of navigating it with the right balance of technology, data security practices and IT skills.”