Biggest trends in data today

By Nikola Domazet, Product Manager for Data at Blue Turtle Technologies.

Johannesburg, 28 May 2021
Read time 5min 30sec

We often hear how rapidly technology is growing and changing. It is not a new phenomenon, but what is moving even faster than ever before in today’s digital world is the rate at which we consume data. Most big data experts agree that the volumes of data generated will continue to grow exponentially.

In its Data Age 2025 report, IDC forecasts the global datasphere will reach 175 zettabytes by 2025. To put that number in perspective, one zettabytes is equal to 1 billion terabytes. If we reflect for a moment that in 2013 that number was sitting at 4.4 zettabytes, and according to the IDC, it reached 18 zettabytes by 2018 – we can reflect that in just five years, the amount of data grew over four times. As we turn on more digital services, the speed and pace at which it is growing is even faster.

As a business, we can't outpace data. So how do we, as technology companies, make sure to stay ahead of the curve and provide the best services to customers, enabling them to continue to meet the data challenge, while exploiting to drive business? This is where understanding needle mover technologies and data trends come into play. We reflect on three mega-trends in data and their impact on business today.

1. Migration of data in the cloud

Hyperscalers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform have transformed how data is stored and processed. In the past, when companies intended to run data-intensive apps, they needed to physically grow their own data centres, which meant spending a fortune on hardware. Today, the subscription-based pay as you use model offered by cloud service providers offers up the much-needed agility, scalability and ease of use demanded by customers.

This trend, whereby data lives in the cloud, will continue to grow as people use online services, more and more, as part of their everyday life, and business matches this with new digital services. If we look at some numbers from the Digital 2019: Global Overview reports:

  • Population: 7.676 billion people
  • Unique mobile users: 5.112 billion
  • Internet users: 4.388 billion
  • Active social media users: 3.484 billion
  • Mobile social media users: 3.256 billion

This means in 2019, 57% of the population was connected to the Internet, and 3.484 billion active social media users consume data daily, with those numbers continuing to grow. All of this means this data needs to be stored somewhere and accessed quickly, which is why data in the cloud is a perfect solution for the future.

This trend will undoubtedly continue through the next decade.

2. Data privacy and security

Securing data is remains a top-of-mind issue and isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. Ever-growing volumes and spread of data needs to be protected from cyber theft, insider threat and accidental exposure. In many cases, current data protection efforts cannot keep up with the variety and rate of data stored. Further, the tactics used by cyber criminals are evolving in sophistication, requiring continuous innovation in our cyber security.

Then we also face the demands of data privacy regulations, a key one being the EU’s GDPR, and here in South Africa, POPIA coming into full effect in June 2021.

What is POPIA? It stands for Protection of Personal Information Act and applies to all personal information in any format database, document, cloud environment, etc. It is a prescribed set of protection rules for storing and processing personal information and, if not adhered to, will result in substantial fines and jail time.

POPIA applies to everyone who collects, stores and processes personal information. Chances are this will affect every organisation in South Africa, so it is advisable to get ahead of the curve to protect your organisation. If we look at GDPR and some examples of the fines resulting from non-adherence:

  • Google – €50 million ($56.6 million)
  • H&M – €35 million ($41 million)
  • British Airways –€22 million ($26 million)
  • TIM – €27.8 million ($31.5 million)

These are but a few examples of what we can expect when POPIA comes into play.

3. Artificial intelligence (AI)

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world as we knew it changed. For example, over 500 clinical trials started in response to finding treatments, and all this data had to be stored in a live database to be shared with experts worldwide. Data and analytics combined with AI have shown their worth and proven to be ideal tools for future efforts to predict, prepare and respond in a proactive and accelerated manner to a global crisis and its aftermath. With the current pandemic still looming, AI techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing are already being used to assist with predicting the spread of the virus.

AI-powered systems can analyse data from hundreds of sources and offer predictions about what works and what does not. It can also deep dive into your customers' data and offer forecasts about consumer preferences, product development and marketing channels. We see this being used more and more by market leaders such as Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon, etc. The market for AI data analytics is growing exponentially. According to Gartner, by the end of 2024, 75% of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalising AI, driving a 5X increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures.

The complexity and volume of data being produced, which is used by businesses across industries, are more than humans alone can handle. Companies across the globe have started to adopt AI in their data analytics to improve day-to-day operations. Combining AI data analytics with BI platforms can help businesses optimise, improve operations and make teams work faster and smarter.


Having the right data strategy and solutions in place will enable business to exploit data to its advantage, driving new and profitable digital services. It is essential for IT to stay up to date with the latest data trends, whether implementing a cloud offering, leveraging AI on big data, combating cyber crime or meeting compliance demands. Data underpins business and our role is to enable data for business advantage – a win-win.

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