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Open Data to Maximize Your Return on Data … Create Your Own Goldmine

If data is an asset, why should you give it away?  Open data is based on the notion that some data should be freely available to everyone to use, similar to other “Open” movements such as open source software. But open data doesn’t have to only be about exposing information publicly; the same concepts can be applied inside your firewall. Here are a few examples:

Governments are opening up their data to citizens and business to help economic growth, to improve public services and to increase participation. According to Wikipedia, there are over 200 local, regional and national open data catalogues available.

Private sector companies are also opening up access to some of their data and monetizing the results.  One high profile example is the Goldcorp which opened up 50 years of geological data (400 MB) related to their 55,000 acre Red Lake mine site. The company issued a challenge and offered $575,000 in prizes to the participants with the best methods to discover new gold sources in the old data. The result was a goldmine!

  • “In all, more than 110 sites were identified and 50% of these were previously unknown to the company. Of these new targets, more than 80 per cent yielded significant gold reserves. McEwen believes that this collaborative process cut two, maybe three years off the company’s exploration time. And the worth of this gold has so far exceeded $6 billion in value. The prize money was only a little over half a million dollars, so it was a fantastic value for money investment, and much cheaper than continuing with unproductive exploratory drilling.”[1]

But the greatest leverage may simply be opening data inside your organization.  Of all the categories of assets, (money, people, equipment, buildings, patents, etc.) data is the one asset that you can give to someone and still keep it.  It also has the unique characteristic of the more you give it away, the more valuable it becomes.  For example, the more people in your company that have access to a 360-degree view of your customers, the more effectively that knowledge can be leveraged to cross-sell products, improve customer service, manage risks and reduce operating costs.

Yet we still see organizations with their valuable data assets locked up in application silos with limited ability to share the information across the customer process value chain. Solutions like master data management or data virtualization can act like “goldmines” to open up the data to everyone inside the company.  And don’t worry about sensitive bits of data like SSN, credit card numbers, or personal health data – that’s what data privacy tools are for.

From a lean data management perspective, we call this “visual control” which aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness by shining a light on key data and processes so that people can use it. So why wait? Let’s start digging for gold.

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