EMC has revealed that a staggering 3 892 179 868 480 350 000 000 new bits of digital information were created in 2008 – indicating that information growth has continued despute the economic downturn.

John Gantz, chief research officer of IDC, comments: "Contrary to popular belief, as the economy deteriorated in late 2008, the pace of digital information created and transmitted over the Internet, phone networks, and airwaves actually increased.”
According to the new EMC-sponsored IDC study entitled "As the Economy Contracts, the Digital Universe Expands", the amount of digital information created in 2008 grew 3% faster than IDC’s prior projection.  Looking forward, the digital universe is expected to double in size every 18 months.  In 2012, five times more digital information will be created than in 2008.
The new findings highlight the third update to the groundbreaking Digital Universe study, which measures and forecasts the vast amounts and diverse types of digital information created and copied annually. Calculated to be 487-billionGb in size, the amount of information created in 2008 is the equivalent of more than:
* 237-billion fully-loaded Amazon Kindle wireless reading devices;
* 4,8-quadrillion online bank transactions;
* 3-quadrillion Twitter feeds;
* 162-trillion digital photos;
* 30-billion fully-loaded Apple iPod Touches; or
* 19-billion fully-loaded Blu-ray DVDs.
While the pace of digital information increased in 2008, IT budgets declined, thus creating an even larger divide between the amount of information generated and the amount of IT resources purchased and deployed to manage it. This dynamic further validates the demand for tools and techniques (such as virtualisation, de-duplication and other data reduction technologies) geared specifically for managing more with less.
Gerhard van der Merwe, country manager of EMC South Africa, says: “Whether you’re a student, senior executive, stay-at-home parent or surgeon, the growth of digital information collides with everyday business and everyday life. Those who use information growth to their advantage are seeking out new and creative ways to manage, secure and protect the rapidly-growing volumes.”
Key findings from the 2009 IDC Digital Universe study signal fundamental shifts in the areas of information growth, security, compliance and management.
Over the next four years, the number of information-generation technologies and interactions will increase dramatically:
* Mobile users will grow by a factor of 3.0. Over the next four years, 600-million more people will become Internet users.  Nearly two-thirds of all Internet users will use mobile devices at least some of the time.
* Non-traditional IT devices such as wireless meters, automobile navigation systems, industrial machines, RFID readers and intelligent sensor controllers will grow by a factor of 3.6.
* Interactions between people via email, messaging and social networks will grow by a factor of 8.0.
Most of the world’s economic stimulus efforts will also increase the amount of digital information created, the result of increased access to broadband communications, electronic patient records, smart electric grids, smart buildings and automobiles.
By 2012, 850-million people will buy and sell products and services on the Internet and twice as much Internet commerce will take place versus 2008. By 2012, Internet commerce will be a $13-trillion industry, mostly involving sensitive business-to-business commerce.
More than 30% of information created today is ‘security-intensive’, thus requiring high standards of protection. That number will grow to roughly 45% by the end of 2012.
Most of the information IT organisations will need to keep secure is created outside the data centre, often outside the company. More and more of that information originates from mobile users – workers, customers, suppliers, partners – which adds an additional layer of management and security complexity to the equation.  
Examples of security-intensive includes patient medical records and images, credit card and social security numbers, Internet commerce and other transaction data, video surveillance, sensitive legal documents and corporate intellectual property.
In terms of information compliance, the amount of information considered ‘compliance-intensive’, or subject to rules that govern what information must be stored and accessible to regulating authorities and auditors, will grow from 25% of the digital universe in 2008 to 35% of the digital universe in 2012.
The financial collapse will clearly lead to more regulation and government oversight, which will drive more mandated record-keeping compliance, and hence, more digital information.
Examples of compliance-intensive information include personally identifiable information, employee email archives, financial and human resources records and litigation documents.