Open Knowledge Belgium

Time for the Big Guns

Stephane Roelandt

The summer ended and like most children in Belgium, OKFN members are showing up with tons of fresh memories, but also questions about the coming year. I have just had my first post-summer meeting with a company active in the publishing area and the outcome was a question that was already keeping me busy for some time: “Are companies getting ready for open data ?”

So, where are we today on the open data scene ? If we are talking about data, then working on the Big data problem seems to be the number one intrest for many companies. And yes, I’m sure it will deliver business value through a better understanding of the company data. But a good question was raised last week by the Gartner folks:

Will it provide a competitive advantage ?

Gartner (1) used the summer to rethink their view on open data and their expectactions for open data in the future which resulted in a press release: “Gartner Says Big Data Makes Organizations Smarter, But Open Data Makes Them Richer” (2). In short, big data will help organisations, but open data will be the main driver for increasing revenue and business value. This is of course great news for companies, but the question remains, how can they really turn their data into euros ?

Another major player, Deloitte (3), also published a report on open data at the start of the summer: “Open Data – Driving growth, ingenuity and innovation” (4). It was written in collaboration with the ever popular Professor Nigel Shadbolt and however it only took the UK in perspective, I think that many of the conclusions can be used for the rest of Europe:

“Businesses will increasingly open up their data to revolutionise the way they compete

New data-as-a-service business models will emerge and stimulate engagement of developers and consumers, mashing up government data and proprietary information and increase collaboration between partners and suppliers.

“Businesses will use open data to inspire customer engagement

Social media is already putting pressure on all organisations to be more transparant. But open data will be the next step leading the customers to find the best deals or to benefit from collective purchasing. Organisations following these steps will create a more positive perception of their brands improving their customer engagement and retention.

“Businesses will work with the government to establish a new paradigm in data responsibility and privacy

It’s obvious that the UK has already made a significant leap in the open data world, but also the Belgian government is moving forward together with the Flemisch and Walloon regions. The mentality towards open data is slowly changing resulting in the open data websites (5) or events like the “Open Data Dag” event, an open data conference organized by the Flemisch government in collaboration with many organisations like OKFN Belgium. One outcome of this conference will be the hackathon “Apps for Flanders” (14 september 2012 – which will use data from several governmental departments, like the department of economy, science and innovation (EWI – Economie, Wetenschappen en Innovatie). The EWI team will present their the current research data of the six Flemisch universities.

So where are we today ? According to the big guns, at the gate of a more open market. But like all innovations, as Peter F. Drucker eloquently put it : “the test of an innovation lies not its novelty, its scientific content or its cleverness. It lies in its success in the marketplace.” Well, the marketplace created by the UK government only is estimated at 16 billion pound . Who wants a piece ?

(1) Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, delivering the technology-related insight necessary for our clients to make the right decisions, every day.
Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 5,200 associates, including 1,280 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries.

(2) Gartner press release:

(3) Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte’s approximately 182,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

(4) Deloitte report:

(5) Belgium:


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