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IDC Study Forecasts Explosive Growth of the Digital Universe

  • June 04 2008, 5:16pm EDT

EMC Corporation announced new findings to the EMC-sponsored research from IDC that measures and forecasts the vast amounts and diverse types of digital information created and copied in the world.


IDC's research indicates: 

  • At 281 billion gigabytes (281 exabytes), the digital universe in 2007 was 10 percent bigger than previously estimated.
  • With a compound annual growth rate of almost 60 percent, the digital universe is growing faster and is projected to be nearly 1.8 zettabytes (1,800 exabytes) in 2011, a tenfold increase over 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.  

Other key findings: 

  • The information explosion, at least in raw gigabytes, is predominately visual: images, camcorder clips, digital TV signals and surveillance streams.
  • The picture related to the source and governance of digital information remains intact: Approximately 70 percent of the digital universe is created by individuals, yet enterprises are responsible for the security, privacy, reliability, and compliance of 85 percent.
  • Because of the growth of VoIP, sensors, and RFID, the number of electronic information "containers" - files, images, packets, tag contents - is growing 50 percent faster than the number of gigabytes.
  • To deal with this explosion of the digital universe, organizations will need to spearhead the development of organization-wide information governance: information security, information retention, data access and compliance.
  • The finance industry accounts for almost 20 percent of worldwide IT spending but only 6 percent of the digital universe. Meanwhile, media, entertainment and communications industries will account for 10 times their share of the digital universe in 2011 as their share of global GDP.
  • Electronic waste is accumulating at more than 1 billion units a year.

To find out more about information trends, history and preservation, go to 

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