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Gartner: Big Data makes firms smarter; open data makes them richer

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23rd Aug 2012
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Whilst Big Data makes organisations smarter, open data will increase revenue and business value, according to new research from Gartner.

"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 VP at Gartner. 

However, Newman added that for clients seeking competitive advantage through direct interactions with customers, partners and suppliers, open data is the solution.

An open data strategy should be a top priority for any organisation using the web as a channel for delivering goods and services as they support outside-in business practices that generate growth and innovation, said Gartner. 

Additionally, the firm proposed that any business that has a data warehouse should consider how it can use data as a strategic asset and revenue generator as maturing technologies for data quality and data anonymisation can help mitigate regulatory restraints and risk factors.

Emerging data marketplaces are also places for organisations to open their data — potentially turning their “data into dollars”, said Gartner. However, the report proposed that the challenge for such firms is to keep the barriers to entry low to enable participation by different types of business and streamlined processes for adding and vetting data sources.

Newman added: “With tight budgets and continued economic uncertainty, organisations will need leaders who can craft breakthrough strategies that drive growth and innovation. As change agents, enterprise architects can help their organisations become richer through strategies such as open data.”

However, the definition of ‘open’ is still being decided. According to Gartner analysts, an informal definition of openness is a level playing field where everyone can play a game that can evolve. There is a positive relationship between the openness of information goods – code, data, content and standards – and information services – services that offer information goods, such as the internet, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and GPS – and the size and diversity of the community sharing them. 

Open data APIs are a lightweight approach to data exchange, explained the research firm. Their use is now considered a best practice for opening data and functionality to developers and other businesses with organisations now using APIs to generate new sources of revenue, spur innovation, increase transparency and improve brand equity.

Newman concluded: “The challenge for organisations is to determine how best to use APIs and how an open data strategy should align with business priorities. 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.”

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