Unlocking the true value of data

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Unlocking the true value of data

Unlocking the true value of data

The value of data sharing 

Huge amounts of data are generated every day. These amounts are increasing exponentially due to the increased use of emerging technologies such as social media, cloud services, and the Internet of Things. The global sum of data is expected to be no less than 175 zettabytes by 2025. All this data has huge value potential for businesses and society. However, the value that this data can provide is not fully realised at the moment. A lot of data is not available to everyone because data owners do not share it.

Yet, data has the unique characteristic of being an easily shareable and re-usable asset. Data is non-rivalous, which means many organisations can use existing data simultaneously and profit from it without harming each other’s businesses. The same data can create economical, business, and societal value in multiple contexts simultaneously. But as stated above, a lot of data is currently not available for everyone. Therefore, the true value of data can only be unlocked if it is shared and re-used throughout the digital economy.

If data from organisation A is made available to third parties, for example organisation B and C, and shared widely, various advantages can be achieved. For example, organisation B and C gain access to new data sources, which they can use to create new value for their organisation. They can improve process efficiency, improve products and/or services, increase innovation, or improve risk assessments. Apart from these business benefits, sharing data (across sectors or domains) can also be used to contribute to solving societal developments such as the emergence of smart cities, digitisation of healthcare, smart mobility, and the energy transition. Sharing data can improve sustainability, improve health, reduce poverty, increase equality, or contribute to a more circular economy. In total, this new value creation can result in an additional GDP growth of up to 1% for the Netherlands and similar growth for other EU member states.

Overcoming the challenges of data sharing 

There are different ways to share data. The first option is bilateral data sharing, where one organisation shares data with one other organisation. This is easy to implement for one use case, as only two organisations need to make agreements on data sharing and only trust between these parties is needed. Disadvantages of this option are that it is difficult to scale and you risk reinventing the wheel.

A second option is to share data by means of a central platform. Here, a small number of organisations collect data and have control over that data, whereas the majority of organisations do not possess the data and have little access to it. Data sharing by means of a central platform enables fast and inexpensive implementation of individual use cases and data sharing is often part of the platform’s additional services. However, there is a risk of lock-in due to the power of the platform and a risk of market fragmentation. Central platforms collect as much data as possible and often keep it within their platforms. As a result, this creates inequality and little innovation momentum.

A third way to share data is via a data space. Data sharing by means of a data space is scalable, as it is open to anyone who wants to commit to a specific set of agreements agreed upon by its current participants. In addition, there is little risk of lock-in because the agreements ensure a level playing field. But keep in mind that the development of these agreements takes time and a large number of stakeholders needs to be involved to develop the agreements. In several sectors and domains, a number of market players (for example our participants HDN, iSHARE, MedMij, Netbeheer Nederland, SBR Nexus and, Verbond van Verzekeraars) have collaboratively developed and committed to clear multilateral agreements about the business, legal, operational, functional and technical conditions under which data is shared. These agreements are governed by a governing body in which the decision making is often steered by its member organisations. As these collaboratives often represent an entire value chain, the objective is often to maximise the value creation of data for all actors involved.

The Data Sharing Coalition believes a data space is the most valuable data sharing model, because it is decentralised, collaborative, and it makes data accessible to others – under control of the entitled party (data sovereignty) and based on agreements. This results in a level playing field because more parties have equal access to data, a fair data-value balance, creation of more economic and societal value, and greater innovation potential compared to the other ways of sharing data.

Several of these data spaces have emerged over the last few years, often focused on a specific sector or domain. By providing common, multilateral facilities such as standards, tooling, standard contracts, and a collective governance, they enable seamless and scalable data sharing between organisations in a specific sector or domain. Although the focus of these data spaces on a specific sector or domain is often very useful, much more value of data can be realised if data sharing would be possible not only within, but also across sectors and domains. Interoperability between existing and future domain-specific data spaces will enable a multitude new use cases of data sharing.

The Data Sharing Coalition enables data sharing between existing data spaces. By enabling interoperability between existing and future data spaces with data sovereignty as a core principle, parties from different sectors and domains can easily share data with each other, unlocking significant economic and societal value. The Data Sharing Coalition realises several (cross-sectoral) data sharing use cases. In these use cases, organisations from different domains collaboratively define and realise a use case that creates new value from (cross-sectoral) data sharing. We use our use case development approach to realise use cases, which consists of three phases – each with its own useful tools (also created by the Data Sharing Coalition). Thanks to these use cases and the expertise of our participants, we have achieved several clear results. All these activities enable us to take practical steps towards generic data sharing agreements.