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Singapore’s digital universe to grow 8 times by 2020

Singapore plays home to one of the most connected digital infrastructures and evolved digital societies. The efforts from the government, various corporates and the adoption rate from consumers are only making the digital universe in the market bigger.

A first time Singapore-specific findings of its Digital Universe study titled ‘The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things’, indicates how the emergence of wireless technologies, smart products and software-defined businesses are playing a central role in catapulting the volume of the world’s data. Due, in part, to this internet of things, the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply eight fold between 2013 and 2020 – from 46 exabytes to 377 exabytes.

The research and analysis of this EMC Corporation study is done by IDC.

For perspective
• If the Singapore Digital Universe were represented by the memory in a stack of tablets in 2013 it would have stretched four times the length of the Singapore MRT. By 2020 this would amount to 55 stacks the length of the Singapore MRT
• Today, the average household creates enough data to fill 65 iPhones per year. In 2020, this will grow to 318 iPhones
• Today, if a byte of data were a gallon of water, in only ten seconds there would be enough data to fill an average house. In 2020, it will only take two seconds.

The Singapore findings follow EMC’s April release of the global digital universe study that suggests a big data leap in emerging markets. In 2013, mature markets represented 60 per cent of the digital universe and by 2020 that will flip-flop with emerging markets (including Singapore) representing 60 per cent.

The internet of things comprises billions of everyday objects that are equipped with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically record, report and receive data – a sensor in a shoe tracking how fast a person runs or a bridge tracking traffic patterns. According to the study, the number of devices or things that can be connected to the internet in Singapore is at 2 per cent and will grow to 10 per cent by 2020. This growth is proportional to worldwide trends approaching 200 billion devices today, with 7 per cent (or 14 billion) already connected to and communicating over the internet. The data from these connected devices represents 2 per cent of the world’s data today. IDC now forecasts that, by 2020, the number of connected devices will grow to 32 billion – representing 10 per cent of the world’s data.

The internet of things will also influence the massive amounts of ‘useful data’ – data that could be analysed – in the digital universe. Globally, in 2013, only 22 per cent of the information in the digital universe was considered useful data, but less than 5 per cent of the useful data was actually analysed – leaving a massive amount of data lost as dark matter in the digital universe. By 2020, more than 35 per cent of all data could be considered useful data, thanks to the growth of data from the internet of things, but it will be up to businesses to put this data to use.

This phenomenon will present radical new ways of interacting with customers, streamlining business cycles, and reducing operational costs, stimulating trillions of dollars in opportunity for businesses. Conversely, it presents significant challenges as businesses look manage, store and protect the sheer volume and diversity of this data. 51 per cent of Singapore’s digital universe is protected in comparison to the global average of just 20 per cent. IDC estimates that 40 per cent of the data in the digital universe require some level of protection.

“The digital universe and the internet of things go hand in hand. As sensors become connected to the internet, the data that they generate becomes increasingly important to every aspect of business, transforming old industries into new relevant entities. Traditional storage services will be elevated to new levels of resiliency and tolerance to support the digital universe, which can only be guaranteed in a software-defined environment,” said Vernon Turner, Senior Vice President, IDC.

“As the enormity and potential of the digital universe grows, businesses will have greater opportunities to analyse new streams of data and gain more value from the data they already have. As an epicenter for growth in Asia, Singapore is doing better than its counterparts in terms of protecting data and this is encouraging. Creating a smart Nation begins with the ability of the Nation to extract greater value from the intelligence provided by data. IT departments will be challenged to find innovative ways to enable a smarter work culture,” added Eric Goh, Managing Director, EMC Singapore.

Other Key Findings:
Emerging markets are producing more data: Currently, 60% of data in the digital universe is attributed to mature markets such as Germany, Japan, and the United States, but by 2020, the percentage will flip, and emerging markets including Brazil, Singapore and South East Asia, China, India, Mexico and Russia will account for the majority of data.
Data is outpacing storage: The world’s amount of available storage capacity (i.e., unused bytes) across all media types is growing slower than the digital universe. In 2013, the available storage capacity could hold just 33% of the digital universe. By 2020, it will be able to store less than 15%. Fortunately, most of the world’s data is transient (e.g. Netflix or Hulu stream, Xbox ONE game interactions, Digital TV.) and requires no storage.
Data touched by the cloud will double: In 2013, less than 20% of the data in the digital universe was ‘touched’ by the cloud. By 2020, that percentage will double to 40%.
Consumers create data but enterprises are responsible for it: Two-thirds of the digital universe bits are created or captured by consumers and workers, yet enterprises have liability or responsibility for 85% of the digital universe.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.