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The great data divide: Baby boomers vs. millennials

By Julia Gabel
Mon 30 Oct 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Driven by the rapid rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things, the world is increasingly connected, leading to a corresponding increase in data traffic.

According to McKinsey, there will be approximately 20 to 30 million connected devices by 2020. Data is projected to grow 10 fold to 44ZB by 2020.

To put things into perspective, one zettabyte equates to one trillion gigabytes of data - imagine you can store two billion years of music or 250 billion DVDs in a zettabyte.

Data is created in every communication, interaction and transaction, and further used to make decisions and justify actions. It has also now turned into a catalyst for transition and growth.

According to a Telstye research, more than 70% of large Australian organisations are expected to become data-driven by 2019, with big data analytics fast becoming the ultimate way to empower CEOs and boards to drive the innovation agenda.

The Millennial disruption

Every person on the planet generates a digital footprint. However, the digital footprint looks vastly different between Baby Boomers and Millennials. This is due to the differences in how these generations use technology, create data and save information.

Over the last seven years, data at a file level, rather than a database level, has grown by 39% year-on-year.

One key reason for this change: the average Millennial stores almost twice as much data as a Baby Boomer, and a whopping 30% more than the average member of Generation X.

Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips. It’s now easier than ever to save everything we do digitally. Just writing this piece has created multiple versions of one body of information, something that has become the norm when documents are digital rather than in paper form - part of today’s digital transformation.

Filing cabinets have been replaced by the cloud, thank-you letters have been swapped for emojis and photo albums now exist for all to see on Instagram.

We are part of an increasingly multigenerational workforce made up of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, with the latter making up the largest proportion of today’s workforce.

As Millennials continue to boast an increasing presence in the workplace, businesses should prepare themselves for a data deluge and start to anticipate what this might mean for their storage needs and budget.

The price of data hoarding

The recent Data Hoarders report exposed the implications of mounting data for businesses. First, there is cost – storing all this data comes with a price tag, and the price is only going to go up as data hoarding becomes the norm.

Companies must also think about security. With such large volumes of data created at every turn, it’s easy to become complacent about policing them.

Already, 80% of Aussie respondents surveyed in the Data Hoarders report admitted to storing data potentially harmful to their organisations.

As Boomers and Generation X are gradually replaced by Millennials, the quantity and variety of data downloaded will increase exponentially, making IT infrastructures creak at the seams.

Evidently, data storage costs and risks will accelerate unless action is taken to expose what is being stored, who is accessing it and when, and whether it should be retained at all.

Alleviating data’s generational divide

Data hoarding is a universal problem and one that can’t go ignored if businesses wish to remain secure, efficient, as well as protect their brand and their bottom line.

It is clear the volume of data is only going to increase, and do so dramatically. As such, it is time for companies to embrace this fact and figure out how to address the issue head on.

There are data management solutions on the market today that can provide a complete 360 visibility and oversight of both casual data storage as well as formal retention like archiving.

Organisations can utilise such technologies to ensure policies are in place and importantly, that data hygiene is understood and practiced.

Not only will this play an important role in achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance, it will help keep needless storage (and with it needless spending) in check by showing exactly what is stored and where.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking. The sooner businesses realise how to navigate the deluge of data that’s coming, the better prepared they can be.

Article by Louis Tague, managing director A/NZ at Veritas Technologies

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