Open Data

Data Strategy Course – Open Data

Section 2.4 Open Data Module

Hello and welcome to my course – on ‘Data Strategy’.

This is Ade Awokoya from LBAcademy. I am a Digital Transformation Adviser, enabling support for Business to innovate on a digital platform, with a focus on your business model.

In this session, on Open Data, we’ll be covering the fundamentals and best practices of good data management, the technology that’s available to help and discuss how and when business should apply them as they grow.

Open Data

Open data can create impact. But to create impact and unlock value with open data, you need to be equipped with the right set of knowledge and skills.

Open data is a relatively new field. Its potential is being realised increasingly as it is slowly integrated into the strategies of organisations. Those working with open data or on open data initiatives often have to learn the skills as they go along.

The Open Data Institute (ODI) was set-up to address this challenge.  The ODI was co-founded in 2012 by the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and artificial intelligence expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt to show the value of open data, and to advocate for the innovative use of open data to affect positive change across the globe.

The Open Data Initiative provides a platform for a single, comprehensive view of your data, bringing together and enriching data from all your lines of business, across all your systems to deliver real-time intelligence back into your applications and services.

Significant uptake
In April 2020, Microsoft joined the ODI’s Commercial Partnership Programme.
The objective of the partnership is to advance the cause of open, trustworthy data sharing and collaboration, such that any organisation of any size can more easily collaborate around data and realise its benefits.

Data has become an essential element of both business strategy and business operations.
This is why responsibility for data is moving up the company structure; as a business owner you should be considering your company’s data skills, data handling and data infrastructure as part of your responsibilities. The goal is to help you bring balance and alignment to how data is being used across your organisation.

The checklist suggests five critical areas leaders can explore

Data records

Organisations often underestimate the information they hold and the potential of that data.

The main type of data that organisations work with are
Administrative data
Reference data

Administrative data are the records that are made as part of an organisation carrying out its day-to-day business. Examples are point-of-sale receipts, website access logs, or railway maintenance plans.

To make sense of the low-level information within administrative datasets, they usually have to be analysed and summarised. This aggregate data can show trends over time or highlight differences in different geographical areas or for different products or services. An example would be total sales of each product over time across supermarkets.

Sharing raw administrative data can be hard because it often contains personal data and therefore can’t usually be released under data protection legislation. Having unique access to this data may also provide you with a competitive advantage. There are usually fewer barriers to providing reference and aggregate data as open data.

It is easiest to share data that your organisation has gathered and maintains itself, because then you know that your organisation owns that data. If some of the data originates from another organisation, your ability to share that data will be determined by the licence through which it was made available to you.

Reference data is simply used to provide information that rarely changes about things, which helps to understand other data.Common reference data is often shared between and used by many organisations. Examples are product information, charity registrations, or taxi licences.

Open data can be shared (and if it was made available under a share-alike licence, you must use the same open licence for the data you have created). Closed data usually cannot be shared onwards.

How can you get value for your business?
When you look at what data is flowing between your organisation and other groups, there will be some that your organisation can affect, by sharing more or better quality data with others or by ensuring that you receive more or better quality data from someone else.

Publishing open data can be supported through three general business models, described below:

1) freemium: you provide an “added value” data product or service, for which you charge
2) cross subsidy: you reach more customers, or provide enhanced services to existing customers, through wider sharing and use of your data
3) network effects: by collaborating with other organisations, you reduce your costs in maintaining data which you use in your work or extend the possible audience for your products and services.

These different ways of supporting open data can be used together for a single dataset, or different models can be used for different datasets. There isn’t one right model to use.

For example, an organisation might provide open access to some data to enable a larger community to improve its quality, exploiting network effects, and because it drives business towards the products and services offered by the organisation that owns it, which is a cross-subsidy-based business model.

Data Quality

Data quality has become one of the biggest issues requiring business owner’s attention. As companies rely increasingly on data to drive performance, the risks of misreporting due to poor data have become critical.

Increasing data quality brings many positives. Many business owner’s are taking up this responsibility — for example, overseeing standardisation, clean-ups, and integrations — as they are best placed to do it.

Many organisations have made a significant business decision with inaccurate financial data, and there have been many high-profile stories about the harmful effects of misreporting. Organisations of all sizes are grappling with many systems that do not talk clearly to one another, which makes managing data a serious challenge.

But data from outside the organisation can be even less reliable, and alongside cybersecurity, poor data is now the biggest issue that could “wipe out” boards and management.

Ensuring quality requires a huge effort to manipulate, validate, reconcile data, and correct errors, even before you start combining it with external information. Thankfully, cloud systems today offer more flexibility and integration tools that will bring new insights from the use of structured and unstructured data.