Data Becomes “Life-Critical” — A Fundamental Change, Transforming the Way We Live

  • The Data Age - One Interaction Every 18 Seconds

The average connected person anywhere in the world will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times per day — basically one interaction every 18 seconds…

IDC’s Data Age 2025 report released this month is already changing the conversation among data industry leaders and media commentators.

For fifty years, IDC’s been a highly respected provider of intelligence about IT, telecom and consumer technology applications. IDC has published regular updates charting the creation of an always-on, highly interconnected technology world. This new Data Age 2025 report takes a deep look at trends driving growth in the global datasphere — and their implications for people and businesses. The stakes are outlined in the report’s compelling executive summary, which I’ll share below. Read on to understand …

Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life Critical
Don’t Focus on Big Data; Focus on the Data That’s Big
Executive summary — by John F. Gantz, David Reinsel and John Rydning

We are fast approaching a new era of the Data Age. From autonomous cars to humanoid robots and from intelligent personal assistants to smart home devices, the world around us is undergoing a fundamental change, transforming the way we live, work, and play.

Imagine being awoken and tended to by a virtual personal assistant that advises you on what clothing from your wardrobe is best suited to the weather report and your schedule for the day or being transported by your self-driving car. Or perhaps you won’t need to commute to an office at all as technology will allow you to conjure workspaces out of thin air using interactive surfaces, and holographic teleconferencing becomes the norm for communicating virtually with colleagues. Weekends may involve browsing new furniture through an augmented reality app and seeing how a sofa looks in your living room before placing an order. As you relax on the new sofa, Saturday night’s takeout will be a pizza made by a robot and delivered in record time by a drone.

Data has become critical to all aspects of human life over the course of the past 30 years; it’s changed how we’re educated and entertained, and it informs the way we experience people, business, and the wider world around us. It is the lifeblood of our rapidly growing digital existence. This digital existence, as defined by the sum of all data created, captured, and replicated on our planet in any given year is growing rapidly, and we call it the “global datasphere“. In just the past 10 years society has witnessed the transition of analog to digital. What the next decade will bring using the power of data is virtually limitless.

While we as consumers will enjoy the benefits of a digital existence, enterprises around the globe will be embracing new and unique business opportunities, powered by this wealth of data and the insight it provides. Extracting and delivering simplicity and convenience from the complexity of many billions of bytes – be it through robotics, 3D printing, or some other yet-to-come technological innovation – will be the order of the day. The opportunities already seem limitless, as does the sheer volume of data these connected devices and services will create.

From Business Background to Life-CriticalFrom power grids and water systems to hospitals, public transportation, and road networks, the growth of real-time data is remarkable for its volume and criticality. Where once data primarily drove successful business operations, today it is a vital element in the smooth operation of all aspects of daily life for consumers, governments, and businesses alike.

In this white paper, sponsored by Seagate, IDC looks at the trends driving growth in the global datasphere from now to 2025. We look at their implications for people and businesses as they manage, store, and secure their most critical data.

IDC forecasts that by 2025 the global datasphere will grow to 163 zettabytes (that is a trillion gigabytes). That’s ten times the 16.1ZB of data generated in 2016. All this data will unlock unique user experiences and a new world of business opportunities.

Data Age 2025 describes five key trends that will intensify the role of data in changing our world:

  • The evolution of data from business background to life critical. Once siloed, remote, inaccessible, and mostly underutilized, data has become essential to our society and our individual lives. In fact, IDC estimates that by 2025, nearly 20% of the data in the global datasphere will be critical to our daily lives and nearly 10% of that will be hypercritical.
  • Embedded systems and the Internet of Things (IoT). As standalone analog devices give way to connected digital devices, the latter will generate vast amounts of data that will, in turn, allow us the chance to refine and improve our systems and processes in previously unimagined ways. Big Data and metadata (data about data) will eventually touch nearly every aspect of our lives — with profound consequences. By 2025, an average connected person anywhere in the world will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times per day — basically one interaction every 18 seconds.
  • Mobile and real-time data. Increasingly, data will need to be instantly available whenever and wherever anyone needs it. Industries around the world are undergoing “digital transformation” motivated by these requirements. By 2025, more than a quarter of data created in the global datasphere will be real time in nature, and real-time IoT data will make up more than 95% of this.
  • Cognitive/artificial intelligence (AI) systems that change the landscape. The flood of data enables a new set of technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence — collectively known as cognitive systems — to turn data analysis from an uncommon and retrospective practice into a proactive driver of strategic decision and action. Cognitive systems can greatly step up the frequency, flexibility, and immediacy of data analysis across a range of industries, circumstances, and applications. IDC estimates that the amount of the global datasphere subject to data analysis will grow by a factor of 50 to 5.2ZB in 2025; the amount of analyzed data that is “touched” by cognitive systems will grow by a factor of 100 to 1.4ZB in 2025!
  • Security as a critical foundation. All this data from new sources open up new vulnerabilities to private and sensitive information. There is a significant gap between the amount of data being produced today that requires security and the amount of data that is actually being secured, and this gap will widen — a reality of our data-driven world. By 2025, almost 90% of all data created in the global datasphere will require some level of security, but less than half will be secured.

As data grows in amount, variety, and importance, business leaders must focus their attention on the data that matters the most. Not all data is equally important to businesses or consumers. The enterprises that thrive during this data transformation will be those that can identify and take advantage of the critical subset of data that will drive meaningful positive impact for user experience, solving complex problems, and creating new economies of scale. Business leaders should focus on identifying and servicing that unique, critical slice of data to realize the vast potential it holds.


About the Author:

Jeff Fochtman
Jeff Fochtman is vice president of Consumer Solutions and Global Marketing at Seagate.