What data are most valuable: big data or open data. According to research firm Gartner, big data will make organizations smarter, but open data will be far more consequential for increasing revenue and business value in today's highly competitive environments. Open data will be one of the big topics during Gartner’s Symposium in Barcelona in November.
"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 organizations 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 organization 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 organization 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 anonymization 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, organizations should investigate the types of data exchange now emerging where information producers and consumers share data for profit or mutual gain.
The role of enterprise architects
"With tight budgets and continued economic uncertainty, organizations will need leaders who can craft breakthrough strategies that drive growth and innovation," said Newman. "As change agents, enterprise architects can help their organizations become richer through strategies such as open data."
The question remains what ‘open’ data are, exactly. 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 plays 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.
"The challenge for organizations is to determine 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 toward monetising data assets."