What Will We Do When The World’s Data Hits 163 Zettabytes In 2025?

The shock value of the recent prediction by research group IDC that the world will be creating 163 zettabytes of data a year by 2025 depends on three things.

Firstly, who knows what a zettabyte is (one trillion gigabytes)? Secondly, what is the current annual data creation rate (16.3ZB)? And thirdly do these figures mean anything in a world where we take for granted that data will expand exponentially forever and mostly accept the future reality of autonomous cars and intelligent personal assistants, yet have little real idea of how they will change our lives?

IDC’s paper, Data Age 2025, perhaps answers only the first two questions. Forecasting a ten-fold increase in worldwide data by 2025, it envisions an era focused on creating, utilizing, and managing “life critical” data necessary for the smooth running of daily life.

Consumers will create, share and access data on a completely device-neutral basis. The cloud will grow well beyond previous expectations and corporate leaders will have unparalleled opportunities to leverage new business opportunities, it predicts. But firms will also need to make strategic choices on data collection, utilization and location.

I recently interviewed Jeff Fochtman, vice-president of marketing Seagate Technology, the $14BN market capitalization data storage group that sponsored the IDC report.

Critical Problems

“For individuals and businesses, a data deluge can cause problems in just being able to manage, store and access that data,” he says.

“But the thing that jumps out at me is the critical problems that data is going to solve. On an increasingly populated planet, data is going to solve the things impacting on the human experience: traffic, how we move around, how we grow food and how we feed the population globally.

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