Information Lifecycle Management

Paul Alexander (Global) - Open Data Opens Opportunities

The issue of data privacy has been, once again, under public scrutiny amidst the recent controversy over cookies and how an internet user's data is stored by websites. In May, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) set an ePrivacy directive so that every company with a website would need to ask the user's permission before storing their information, highlighting the concerns users have over privacy.

However, not all data is bad. Open Data - which describes an initiative to publish data sets online to both public and commercial organisations - is creating a real buzz within small and large businesses everywhere. But why?

Open Data is free data

This free resource provides the opportunity for individuals and organisations to access vast amounts of data without having to collect it themselves. An example of this is which holds over 5,400 datasets that are readily available to the public and is one of the largest of its kind.

Last year, David Cameron announced that Open Data will drive dynamic economic growth, generating significant social and economic benefits across society. More recently, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in a business seminar earlier this year that new companies are being created by using large tracts of open data that have been made available from a wide variety of government departments.

While this sounds very promising, in practice there have been few who have generated significant commercial gains due to the perceived complexity of matching and interrogating the available data. Business data, be it transactional, private, structural or Open is not a new concept and is produced at nearly every customer interaction. In order to capitalise from Open Data, companies must have the ability to intelligently organise it first. Although universal accessibility helps make Open Data a unique resource, its potential value, like all data, relies on it being clearly understood and intelligently exploited.

Data is not just a collection of numbers or patterns, but a company's potential to put their customers at the heart of their decision making to generate future revenue and ultimately drive customer loyalty. By making the most of the generated amount of free data available, organisations can get closer to customers and ensure that everything is ultimately tailored to the individual customers and not just segments.

Now is the time for companies in all sectors to make use of this exciting, free data resource. The opportunities are endless for using it to drive intelligent customer engagement and, therefore, value for the business.

Companies who unlock this secret code will find themselves well ahead of the curve.

By Paul Alexander, CEO and Co-founder, Beyond Analysis



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