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Global access to the internet has reshaped our society – our interactions with each other, with our environment, but also the way we do business. Earlier this year, IDC has forecasted that by 2020 there will be around 44 trillion gigabytes of data (or 44 zettabytes). Considering that most of this data can be used to fuel and shape businesses, it is more valuable than gold. How exactly is this data generated and how can it be used? We have tried to answer these questions below.

Globalisation, connectivity, and data

We live in a globalized world and within a digital economy that is new to human history. Every time we go online, we generate data. Each online transaction and line of code adds up to the amount of data out there.

And more and more of us are contributing to this. According to a January 2019 study by Hootsuite and We are social, out of the 7,6 billion people out there, 4.39 billion are internet users. Out of them:

3,48 billion are social media users

5,11 billion are mobile users

Imagine that all these users are producing over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. (source: Domo).

Now let’s see how this data is used – or not used. Out of all the data produced in 2015, only 0,5% was analyzed (Source: IDC). But things are changing and companies are starting to realize the potential that data holds. That is why we expect this number to grow dramatically in future years. If you find this fascinating, check out our infographic, which contains even more statistics. There is however some good news. Most of this data, if used properly, can bring massive growth to the companies that save, analyze and use it.

What does this data fuel?

There are various ways to categorize all of the data out there. According to the way it is used, there is a common distinction to be made between primary data and secondary data. Whereas primary data is the one in use, secondary data involves backup data, archives, data used for testing and development, etc.

Much of the data out there involves user actions and interactions. While conversations between teenagers and cat pictures are not relevant for business purposes, there is a big amount of data that is. In addition to typical user actions and information, this data also includes the data generated by various businesses, like for example:

  • Manufacturing sector: product data, product information, and procedures (including intellectual property)
  • Medical sector: patient information, treatment information, medical research, etc.
  • Education sector: courses and research data
  • Agricultural sector: machine information, schedules, and tracking.
  • Etc.

But the use of data does not stop here. As we are entering a “smart” economy, what we typically call “secondary data” can be used to power tools and businesses adapted to the 21st century, like:

Industry 4.0

AI / Machine learning

Self-driving cars

Modern agriculture

Smart factories


Don’t invest in gold or oil, invest in data!

In the past, investing in costly resources like oil or gold would have seemed a good choice. But gold and oil are not the best fuels for the digital economy. Modern businesses will not be powered by gold or cash, but by data. Because data can be stored, tested and analysed to develop innovative products and solutions. Those who hold data, hold the power to innovate.

Unlike gold or oil, investing in data has some powerful advantages:

  1. Data is an infinite resource – unlike finite materials such as gold, oil or even currency.
  2. The value of data is given by its abundance, not its scarcity. The more you have, the more useful it is.
  3. The value of data is given not by the data itself, but by the ways it can be used, the insight it can offer and the innovation that it can bring.

Technology is evolving at an ever-increasing pace. Machine-learning and AI are already a reality and everything around is becoming “smart”: smart houses, smart cities, smart factories. This movement towards a “smart” world is powered by data.

If you want to own a “smart” business, start investing in your data. Save it and protect it. You may not need it now, but if you start saving it today, you will certainly use it in the future.

Would you like to find out more about how Syneto can help you protect your data? Get in touch with our team to schedule a demo!