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February 18, 2013 4:33 pm

How business data has evolved

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Business data has come of age. Once the preserve of computer scientists in IT departments, information analytics is now part of mainstream business, and regarded by many as the new gold in terms of its value. An estimated 2.5 zettabytes of data were generated in 2012 alone - the equivalent storage capacity for about 625m DVDs - and trends indicate the volume of business data will grow significantly every year.

But data gathering for businesses and governments is nothing new. A series of innovations by visionary men and women over centuries has led to the highly sophisticated, intricate and intelligent systems used by modern businesses to improve decision-making. This FT explainer charts the history of business data, from its origins in Russian electric tabulating machines of the 19th century to the modern explosion of ‘big data’ generated by social media.

Narrated by Helen Barrett, photos by Getty Images, Alamy, AP and AFP

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