Study Forecasts Explosive Growth

Study forecasts explosive growth of the digital universe; spotlights worldwide phenomenon of 'digital shadow'

March 12, 2008

2 Min Read
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HOPKINTON, Mass. -- EMC Corporation, the world leader in information infrastructure solutions, today announced new findings from the groundbreaking EMC-sponsored research from IDC that measures and forecasts the vast amounts and diverse types of digital information created and copied in the world.

The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe: An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2011” highlights findings that are newly updated since IDC’s inaugural forecast of the digital universe was published in March 2007. IDC’s new whitepaper offers updated growth projections and new findings expected to impact business and society based on new data and analysis that indicate:

  • At 281 billion gigabytes (281 exabytes), the digital universe in 2007 was 10% bigger than originally estimated

    With a compound annual growth rate of almost 60%, the digital universe is growing faster and is projected to be nearly 1.8 zettabytes (1,800 exabytes) in 2011, a 10-fold increase over the next five years

    Your “Digital Shadow” – that is, all the digital information generated about the average person on a daily basis – now surpasses the amount of digital information individuals actively create themselves

IDC’s new research shows the digital universe is bigger and growing more rapidly than original estimates as a result of accelerated growth in worldwide shipments of digital cameras, digital surveillance cameras, and digital televisions as well as a better understanding of information replication trends. The digital universe in 2007 was equal to almost 45 gigabytes (GB) of digital information for every person on earth – or the equivalent of over 17 billion 8 GB iPhones. Other fast-growing corners of the digital universe include those related to Internet access in emerging countries, sensor-based applications, data centers supporting “cloud computing” and social networks comprised of digital content created by many millions of online users.

IDC’s research also examines how society and the digital universe interact with each another, addressing how individuals actively participate in contributing to the digital universe – leaving a digital footprint as Internet and social network users, email use, through use of cell phones, digital cameras and credit card transactions. The white paper also highlights the fast-growing passive contributions that individuals make to the digital universe, something known as the “digital shadow.”

“In the updated study, we discovered that only about half of your digital footprint is related to your individual actions – taking pictures, sending emails, or making digital voice calls,” said John Gantz, Chief Research Officer and Senior Vice President, IDC. “The other half is what we call the ‘digital shadow’ – information about you – names in financial records, names on mailing lists, web surfing histories or images taken of you by security cameras in airports or urban centers. For the first time your digital shadow is larger than the digital information you actively create about yourself.”

EMC Corp.

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