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Open data enables competitive advantage: Gartner

Posted: 24 Aug 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Open Data  enterprise  architect 

Gartner Inc. believes that open data will be far more consequential for increasing revenue and business value in today's highly competitive environments compared to "big data" that is said to make organisations smarter.

"Big data is a topic of growing interest for many business and IT leaders, and there is little doubt that it creates business value by enabling organisations to uncover previously unseen patterns and develop sharper insights about their businesses and environments," said David Newman, research vice president at Gartner. "However, for clients seeking competitive advantage through direct interactions with customers, partners and suppliers, open data is the solution. For example, more government agencies are now opening their data to the public Web to improve transparency, and more commercial organisations are using open data to get closer to customers, share costs with partners and generate revenue by monetizing information assets."

Gartner analysts believe an open data strategy should be a top priority for any organisation that uses the Web as a channel for delivering goods and services. Open data strategies support outside-in business practices that generate growth and innovation. Enterprise architects help their organisation connect independent open data projects by creating actionable deliverables and information-sharing practices that generate business-focused outcomes for achieving strategic customer growth and retention objectives.

Gartner analysts said that any business that has a data warehouse should consider how it can use data as a strategic asset and revenue generator. Maturing technologies for data quality and data anonymisation can help mitigate regulatory restraints and risk factors. Open data APIs provide simple, Web-oriented means for data exchange, and linked data techniques are effective for generating big datasets. When considering the long-term benefits of an open data strategy, organisations should investigate the types of data exchange now emerging where information producers and consumers share data for profit.

Emerging data marketplaces are also places for organisations to open their data—potentially turning their "data into dollars." The challenge is to keep the barriers to entry low to enable participation by different types of business and streamlined processes for adding and vetting data sources. Monetizing data is a technological and operational challenge. If an enterprise's goal is to unlock its data's full revenue potential, it needs to be able to reach all possible data buyers efficiently.

"With tight budgets and continued economic uncertainty, organisations will need leaders who can craft breakthrough strategies that drive growth and innovation," said Newman. "As change agents, enterprise architects can help their organisations become richer through strategies such as open data."

Although openness is a pervasive and persistent issue in IT, there is very little agreement about exactly what "open" means. According to Gartner analysts, an informal definition of openness is a level playing field where everyone can play a game that can evolve. There is a positive relationship between the openness of information goods (for example, code, data, content and standards) and information services (for example, services that offer information goods, such as the Internet, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and GPS) and the size and diversity of the community sharing them. From the viewpoint of enterprise information architects, this is known as the information-sharing network effect: the business value of a data asset increases the more widely and easily it is shared.

Open data APIs are a lightweight approach to data exchange. Their use is now considered a best practice for opening data and functionality to developers and other businesses. Organisations use APIs to generate new sources of revenue, spur innovation, increase transparency and improve brand equity.

"The challenge for organisations is to determine how best to use APIs and how an open data strategy should align with business priorities," Newman said. "This is where enterprise architects can help. While some internal IT functions may be using APIs to fulfil local or specific application needs, the enterprise architecture process harvests and elevates good works as first-class strategic priorities that create business-focused outcomes. As a strategic enabler, APIs are a powerful means with which to build an ecosystem, and a first step towards monetizing data assets."

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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