The global data supply reached 4.4 zettabytes (ZB) in 2013 – or 4.4 trillion GB – but less than five percent of that data was actually analyzed, according to the seventh Digital Universe report by the IDC. Approximately 22 percent of all existing data would actually be useful if tagged and analyzed.

The annual report, which first began in 2005, surveys all the data created, copied and consumed in a single year and uses data analysis to extrapolate future data use – with 2020 as the study’s usual benchmark.

The IDC defines the digital universe as all digital data created by the more than 2 billion people and millions of enterprises on this planet. It is this article you’re reading. It’s all the data streaming on Netflix, all the data coursing through cloud networks and all the data being created on IoT devices.

The data universe reportedly is doubling every two years, and by 2020 it will reach 44 ZB.

IoT reportedly will contribute increasingly to this amount. In 2013, 20 billion “things” were connected to the internet and that total is expected to rise to 32 billion by 2020.

In 2013, mature markets, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia, were responsible for creating 60 percent of the world’s data. That ratio will flip by 2020, and 60 percent of the data universe will be created by emerging markets, such as China, Russia, Mexico and India.

The rapid growth and diversity of data is and will prove challenging for organizations – few of which qualified at the top of analytics maturity, according to the report. Extracting the most value from your slice of the data universe doesn’t require wading through all your available data, just the data which the IDC categorizes as “target rich”.

Target-rich data is:

  1. Easy to access: Can you readily access data or is it trapped in proprietary embedded systems? Is it locked away on end-user PCs?
  2. Real-Time: Is your data available in real time? Or does it arrive after the fact?
  3. Footprint: Would high-quality analysis of this data impact a significant number of people, customers or major parts of the organization?
  4. Transformative: If properly utilized, could this data have a meaningful impact on the company or society?
  5. Intersection Synergy: Does this data have more than one of the above attributes? Even better.

In fact, the report found only 1.5 percent of all data in 2014 was target rich. The largest portion was made up of general IT and metadata. Data from embedded systems will represent a larger percentage of target-rich data in the coming years.

In addition to targeting the right data, the report stresses that enterprises take three steps to ensure their survival. The first is to define and implement a company-wide data governance policy. The second is to evaluate and choose the best-suited software tools for data cleaning, crunching and consumption, as well as seamlessly integrate them with existing systems. Finally, enterprises must execute a plan for acquiring the necessary skills and talent to upgrade your workforce for future demands.

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Written by Debbie Meron

Debbie Meron is content marketing manager at Anodot.

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