Data and information are becoming an increasingly important currency in the global economy – not only currently, but especially in the future – and China is set to overtake the U.S. in data generation by 2025, according to a study reported by CNBC.
The study, which was done by the International Data Corporation (IDC) and data storage firm Seagate, found that as China continues to venture into new technologies, like the Internet of Things (IoT), it will outpace average global data generation by 3 percent a year.
In 2018, China generated 7.6 zettabytes of data (a zettabyte is around one trillion gigabytes). By 2025, that amount is expected to grow to 48.6ZB. The U.S., for its part, generated 6.9ZB last year, and in 2025 that number is projected to grow to 30.6ZB.
IDC analysts said that data will be paramount to building next-generation tech, like machine learning, IoT applications and artificial intelligence.
"Data is at the heart of this digital world, and we are increasingly becoming an information economy," IDC analysts wrote. Data can sometimes be used to create new revenue streams, reach new markets or even improve customer service.
"Data may not be on a balance sheet, but data is a company's most valuable intangible asset, which can create a competitive edge in digital transformation," the report said.
There are examples of Chinese companies taking advantages of the troughs of data at their disposal. Tencent and Alibaba, two huge eCommerce companies, targeted traditional banking services with their WeChat Pay and Alipay services. They leveraged years of data collected to create more personalized services for their customers.
The total amount of new data generated in 2025 is expected to grow to 175ZB, from 33ZB in 2018. Most of the growth is predicted to come from entertainment, internet-connected devices, productivity tools, surveillance footage and metadata, which is an important part of how data is analyzed.