Europe achieves world enterprise data 'superpower' status

Europe is the world’s enterprise data superpower according to new research from Digital Realty.

 Europe is the world’s enterprise data superpower, outpacing North America, according to new research released by Digital Realty.


The research comes as the world readies itself for growth brought about by the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. According to recent research from McKinsey and the World Economic Forum, Industry 4.0 has the potential to create USD 3.7 trillion in value by 2025. As digital transformation accelerates, Europe’s place as one of the world’s primary centres of enterprise data puts it in a strong position to capitalise on this growth.


The Data Gravity Index DGx™ – which measures the creation, aggregation and private exchange of enterprise data across 21 metros – reveals that regions with strong global connectivity and an abundance of data-led industries, such as a thriving technology scene or prominent financial services sector, create so much enterprise data that they produce a ‘Data Gravity’ effect, exponentially attracting more data to the region.


Europe’s pre-eminence in a wide range of knowledge economy industries, such as financial services and complex manufacturing, that create vast amounts of enterprise data, combined with the emergence of data-led industries in Europe, has turned the region into a global ‘enterprise data superpower’. According to the research, the volume of enterprise data being created, aggregated and exchanged among European cities is the largest in the world; even larger than North America. Europe is expected to extend its lead as the world’s enterprise data superpower even further in 2024.


Dave McCrory, who coined the term Data Gravity in 2010 and led research on the Data Gravity Index DGx™ explains: “We’ve seen that Data Gravity not only attracts data but makes both data and the services that rely on it exponentially more difficult to move. This gives cities with a particular weight in one industry, like London’s financial services sector or Frankfurt’s complex manufacturing sector, a huge advantage as they naturally attract more of the same kind of data and services – and with them businesses – while it becomes ever harder to attract opportunities away from them. For businesses, it’s less advantageous – data has become a key strategic resource, but Data Gravity means too much of it can be difficult to use and impossible to move while constantly creating and attracting more.”


Europe’s data lead

London is currently the world’s most powerful centre for enterprise data, with a Data Gravity score of 167.05, outpacing both New York (79.61) and Tokyo (80.32) – largely driven by its prominent and highly connected financial services industry. The average Data Gravity score across all cities is 22.64 and 48.45 across Europe. Four other European cities also currently rank in the top centres of enterprise data: Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris.


However, it’s not only the abundance of enterprise data that’s putting European cities in the lead, but the flow of that data between them. According to the Data Gravity Index DGx™, Europe is home to several of the world’s most interconnected city pairings, no doubt helped by the regulatory ease of doing business with one another, as well as the cities’ thriving financial centres. These include London and Amsterdam (1st overall), Paris and London (2nd overall), Frankfurt and Paris (5th overall), London and Frankfurt (6th overall), as well as Dublin and London (10th overall).


Quantum levels of data

Despite the vast benefits of having a thriving data economy with strong, open data exchanges with other cities, being in a city with a strong Data Gravity effect is a mixed blessing for businesses. Many businesses are accruing increasing amounts of enterprise data in a bid to transform their businesses through digital transformation, but are overwhelmed by volume, weighing down digital transformation efforts instead of enabling them.


By 2024, as a whole Forbes Global 2000 Enterprises will have accrued enough data to need access to quantum computing to effectively handle it. They will need an additional 8.96 exaFLOPS of compute power and 15,635 exabytes of private data storage annually to effectively manage their enterprise data. Comparatively, the next quantum computer at Oak Ridge National labs will run at just 1.5 exaFLOPS by 2021.


These unmanageable volumes of enterprise data and the gravity they create are already resulting in issues for businesses beyond the IT department, including:

  • Limited innovation: inability to process enterprise data effectively will hold back technological advances.
  • Poor customer and employee experiences: too much enterprise data being produced will result in ineffective management of that data, subsequently leading to a negative customer experience.
  • Increased costs: more enterprise data being produced will mean more capital needs to be invested to capture, manage and process it.
  • Compliance issues: an abundance of enterprise data will result in organisational challenges when it comes to dealing with regulatory and compliance-related issues.
  • Security: an abundance of data gives bad actors more vantage points.


Munu Gandhi, VP of Core Infrastructure Services at AON plc, the London-based professional services firm, said that understanding Data Gravity — and its impact in the context of other macro-factors such as enterprise data stewardship and regulatory developments — is a megatrend with which global businesses must begin grappling.


“Understanding Data Gravity and its impact on our IT infrastructure is a difference maker for our operations and will only become more important as data continues to act as the currency of the digital economy,” said Gandhi.


“As enterprises continue to be more data-intensive there’s a compounding effect to business points of presence, regulatory oversight and increased complexity for compliance and data privacy that IT leaders are now being forced to solve.”


The trends driving Data Gravity

The Data Gravity megatrend is the summation of several growing forces in businesses, many of which have accelerated in recent months as COVID-19 has driven more business around the world online:


Enterprise data stewardship: the global shift of people from rural to urban areas has meant that by 2030, 43 cities around the globe will have a population of more than ten million, which subsequently increases the number of users creating and exchanging data in the enterprise.


Mergers and acquisitions: globalisation is driving a much higher volume of M&As – in fact, M&A volumes are expected to return to pre-COVID levels in 2021, which will subsequently increase the number of data sources participating in these regional exchanges of enterprise data.


Digital-enabled interactions: business operations are shifting from physical to digital, with digitally enabled interactions perceived as twice as important as physical interactions. More digital interactions mean more enterprise data being produced.


Data localisation: the expansion of legal and regulatory policies is ramping up the requirement for more local data storage. By 2022, 87% of IT leaders will maintain local copies of customer and transaction data for compliance-related purposes, increasing the number of business locations where data is present.


Cyber—physical: businesses are increasingly integrating their physical and digital systems to improve cybersecurity. By 2033, it’s expected that 70% of security products will be digitally integrated, which will increase the types and volumes of data being created and exchanged.

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