Data ice breakers

Toni Sekinah, research analyst and features editor, DataIQ

The reports I've been reading recently have been peppered with facts and figures about the digital universe and the data economy. I have brought together some of them for reference in case you are ever caught short of a data-related titbit to fill in any awkward silences at work meetings, the dinner table or the station platform.

"Data is the new oil" is a phrase that you have no doubt heard umpteen times. It was featured in a report by the World Economic Forum in 2011 and has been echoed by countless data professionals ever since. 

However, the WEF has since said that the data-oil metaphor is not so great as the only thing these two assets have in common is creating the opportunity to generate value. There is a fixed amount of oil on the planet, unlike data where the pace of generation is mindboggling. It's hard to produce massive amounts of oil, but it is easy to produce massive amounts of data. Oil can only be used once whereas data can be reused and shared. And the value of data doesn't increase by just accumulating it.

We do now have a new 'new' metaphor with Andrew Ng the co-founder of Cousera, stating in 2017, that “AI is the new electricity.”

You could have a little chat about money and drop some facts about the data economy - the economic and financial benefit derived from the analysis and storage of large volumes of data. 

In 2016 the data economy was worth (in GVA) €89.8 billion in the UK, €9.9 billion in Ireland, €24.6 billion in the Netherlands, and €108.3 billion in Germany.

In the same year, the number of jobs attributable to the data economy was 1.65m in the UK, 84,000 in Ireland, 349,000 in the Netherlands and 1.95 million in Germany.

The value of the European data economy was over €285 billion in 2015, €300 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to 739 billion by 2020, equating to 4% of overall EU GDP.

Milky wayNow to to refresh your memory about units of data. A bit is the smallest measurement of data. Bits and bytes are both measurements of data. Bits are used to measure the speed of data transfer and bytes are used to measure computer storage and memory.

There are eight bits in one byte of data, and 1,000 bytes in one kilobyte. One thousand kilobytes is equal to one megabyte. One thousand megabytes is equal to one gigabyte. One thousand gigabytes is equal to one terabyte. One thousand terabytes is equal to one petabyte. One thousand petabytes is equal to one exabyte.

Now the numbers are becoming really big and start to sound like geologic time periods. One thousand exabytes is equal to one zettabyte. One thousand zettabytes is equal to one yottabyte. One thousand yottabytes is equal to one brontobyte. And one thousand brontobytes is equal to one geopbyte.

The world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes a day - for scale there are 18 zeros in a quintillion – and 90% of all data has been produced in the last two years.

By 2025 the size of the global datasphere will be 160 zettabytes.

As always, look up the sources and cast a critical eye but I reckon you've got some good conversation starters here.

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Knowledge-based content manager, DataIQ
Toni is the senior features editor responsible for the origination of DataIQ's interviews, articles and blogs.