Data creation, consumption to reach 59 zettabytes this year

Information on the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may largely contribute to the surge in content creation and information consumption over the internet. With this development and other factors, market intelligence firm International Data Corp. (IDC) forecasts that “more than 59 zettabytes (ZB) of data will be created, captured, copied, and consumed in the world this year.”

(One Zettabyte is approximately equal to a thousand Exabytes, a billion Terabytes, or a trillion Gigabytes. Source: Cisco)

Add to the fact that the global health crisis forced countries to impose lockdowns, work- and school-related activities (as well as the surge in video streaming for people staying at home) are now done online leading to creation of more data.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the creation of new unique data, the increased consumption of replicated data has fueled the continued growth of the Global DataSphere,” the IDC said. “This growth is forecast to continue through 2024 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26%.”

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The market intelligence firm also noted, “The amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years, and the world will create more than three times the data over the next five years than it did in the previous five.”

Data bump

“Growth of the Global DataSphere is driven more by the data that we consume and analyze than what we create,” said David Reinsel, senior vice president for IDC’s Global DataSphere. “Obviously, data must be created before it can be analyzed, but the recursion rate of data — the rate at which the same data is processed again — continues to grow exponentially driving the ‘unique’ DataSphere down to 10% of the total DataSphere.”

The IDC report titled “Worldwide Global DataSphere Forecast, 2020–2024: The COVID-19 Data Bump and the Future of Data Growth,” presents a five-year forecast for the worldwide Global DataSphere. The report provides figures for data creation by segment, geographic region, type, origin, location, cloud and non-cloud, and urgency (real-time). The forecast incorporates the impact of COVID-19 into all forecast assumptions for all markets, according to the most recent macroeconomic inputs from the last week of March 2020.


IDC also sees that productivity and/or embedded data is the fastest-growing category of data creation with a 40.3% CAGR for the 2019–2024 forecast period. By 2024, entertainment data will be 40% of the Global DataSphere and productivity/embedded data will be 29%, stalled somewhat by COVID-19 dynamics.

Sensors are being embedded into anything and everything and throwing off data that can help contextualize data. This data along with increasing amounts of metadata (data about data) is growing aggressively and soon will surpass all other data types.

The consumer share of the Global DataSphere will hover around 50% and decline roughly 4% over the next five years, slowly ceding share to the enterprise DataSphere.

Video surveillance data and privacy and regulatory initiatives/mandates continue to intersect with one another. Finding the correct balance between security, personalization, efficiency, and individual rights to privacy will be one of the great tensions of this decade.

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